Big picture thinking was the focus at the 101st Annual Meeting of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce. The evening provided an opportunity to take a step back and celebrate the accomplishments of a milestone year and look ahead to what is in store for the Association.
Over 300 people gathered at the Annual Meeting, demonstrating the support of the business community and the far-reaching impact of the organization. Those in attendance were able to hear from past and present AC leadership and join in congratulating the recipients of the 2012 Community Awards, as well as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year.
In addressing fellow members, 2013 AC board chair Steve Cramer, VP and CFO of Mercury Marine, shared the AC’s commitment to remain member and community focused in 2013. “The AC will continue to focus on creating strong and lasting partnerships to further promote commerce and economic development here in Fond du Lac,” stated Cramer. “We will continue to provide members with valuable programming, tools and training to help move Fond du Lac forward.”
Cramer also spent time discussing the latest AC advances regarding workforce development. “In 2011, we identified major workforce concerns and developed solutions to those issues in the Retirement and Departure Intentions Study,” explained Cramer. “In 2012, we gathered area business and community leaders together to focus on tackling the issues brought to light in the study. In 2013, we will continue those efforts, which have already resulted in information sharing and policy development that are set to retain, recruit and attract a thriving local workforce.” The importance of this issue became clear as
Cramer discussed just how these advances will impact virtually every business, organization and entrepreneur in Fond du Lac. “It’s not just about local manufacturers getting the workers they need,” explained Cramer. “It is about every business, large and small, in every industry from retail to marketing firms and everything in between, existing and thriving in an economy and a community that is growing.”
Cramer also thanked past chair Steve Little, of Agnesian HealthCare for the memorable year and the many advancements that occurred under his leadership. Little provided a recap of the past year, highlighting numerous accomplishments.
In 2012, the AC led the way in workforce development, making tremendous advances and bringing together a group of community members focused on addressing workforce and economic concerns. Educational and development opportunities were also strong in 2012, with programs such as Youth Career Development, Leadership Fond du Lac and the Agri-Business Council experiencing growth. Little also discussed the AC’s modified approach to economic development. “We’ve redefined how we are approaching economic development opportunities,” explained Little. “Expanding the areas of focus and taking on more of a community approach to better identify what Fond du Lac needs and could benefit from.”
2012 was a milestone year for the AC as it celebrated one-hundred years of progress. Since 1912 the AC has been promoting commerce, developing partnerships, creating opportunities and building community. And it is with this sentiment that Little addressed attendees and reminded members of the organization’s vision. “The vision of the AC has gotten us where we are today,” stated Little. “The celebration of one-hundred years of progress was a great opportunity to reflect on our many accomplishments but also to look ahead to our future and the strength of the local business community.”
Along with the keynote addresses, several awards were handed out at the Annual Meeting.
2012 Volunteer of the Year: Rebecca Ries, of Bluestem Bison and Ries’ Tallgrass Farm, was named Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her extensive service and dedication to the AC. Since 1999, Ries has been involved in the Agri-Business Council, a division of the AC, and has been giving back and making a difference in so many ways. Currently serving as the chair of the Agriculture Showcase, she has also served as chair of the Agricultural Ambassador program, can be seen volunteering and working hard at practically every Agri-Business event and generously donates to numerous fundraisers and events. Whether it be volunteering at the Breakfast on the Farm or managing the fair food booth or attending a committee meeting or participating in area Farmers Markets or helping to organize other volunteers throughout the year, Ries never seems to stop. And it is this dedication and commitment to promoting area agriculture that makes her such a valuable asset to everything she is involved in and everyone she meets along the way.
Six Community Awards were given:
- Mr. Robert Fale (retired president and CEO of Agnesian HealthCare): In honor of the dedicated service provided to our community through leadership and volunteer service.
- Mr. Tom Herre (retired Fond du Lac City Manager): In honor of the dedicated service provided to the citizens of the city of Fond du Lac through leadership as city manager.
- Bob and Bonnie’s Donuts and Cakes: In honor of the dedicated service provided to the citizens of Fond du Lac through tireless effort and unselfish attitude of giving without concern of recognition.
- McNeilus Steel: In recognition of company growth and development and commitment to the area through the expansion of manufacturing facilities.
- Nemesis Metals: In recognition of the significant contributions made to the Fond du Lac community through generous donations and community service.
- The Sophia Foundation: In recognition of the significant contribution made to the Fond du Lac community.