Leadership in its various forms was celebrated at the Brown County Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Feb. 1.

Six local businesses received recognition for standout work in their community. The North End Shops and the Brown County Inn received beautification awards for building design and for landscaping. The Artists Colony Inn, the Cornerstone Inn and Foxfire/Foxfire Boutique earned first, second and first-place honors in the storefront decorating contest.

The Nashville Spice Company was named Business of the Year for excellence in business planning and for seeking partnerships and supporting community causes.

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Outgoing chamber president Mike Stieglitz reported 2017 as a “banner year” for the chamber. Memberships numbered 115 at the end of the year, compared to about 90 the year before. The chamber also finished in the black despite approving a deficit budget for 2017.

The chamber donated $1,200 to local organizations throughout the year. Chamber leaders took up responsibility for the Holiday Light Parade to benefit The Salvation Army. It brought in 1,565 toys and served 270 local children.

A partnership with the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau produced a revamped “passport” program, chaired by chamber member Laura Boyer. Shop visitors spent $953,500 in the county during the holiday season using that incentive program. “It exceeded everyone’s projections and our wildest dreams,” Stieglitz said. A similar spring passport program is under way.

Stieglitz received the Chamber Leadership Award from Vickie Blake for the three years he served as president. Blake has now taken over that role.

Two Indiana University basketball team members from the 1970s spoke to the crowd about leadership: manager Kim Kohlmeier and “sixth man” John Laskowski. Both have spent their careers in sales.

Laskowski advised business owners to be different and stand out; to recognize the unique strengths and weaknesses of various employees; and to work so that you leave your business and community in better shape than it was.

As thanks, the chamber offered to make a $500 donation to the organization of the speakers’ choice. They opted to help local athletes, donating it to the Brown County High School athletics department.