Chamber Recognizes Outstanding Business Professionals in Columbia with Highest Awards

Some of Columbia’s most outstanding business professionals were recognized on June 24, 2019, with four of the most prestigious awards handed out by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. At the Annual Membership Dinner and Awards Banquet, four business professionals were acknowledged for their hard work and dedication throughout their careers to the Columbia community and past year with the Chamber.

The following individuals were awarded:

  • Outstanding Citizen of the Year – Steve Smith, President & CEO of Job Point
  • George & Nadine Trial Ambassador of the Year – Robert Aulgur, retired City of Columbia Municipal Court Judge
  • Emerging Professional of the Year – Keegan Thompson, Architect at Simon Oswald Architecture
  • Women’s Network Debin Benish Outstanding Businesswoman – Michele Batye, President of Dave Griggs Flooring America

“These individuals are perfect examples of what our business community consists of,” Chamber President Matt McCormick said. “They are role models who don’t just challenge themselves to be better each day, but inspire others to perform at their best. They are one of many reasons why our business community is thriving.”

The Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award is given annually to a local individual who has contributed an enormous amount of their time and talents to organizations and our community, as a way of saying “thank you” for all that they do to make Columbia a better place to live, learn, work and play. Smith has been involved in several of the Chamber’s committees and divisions for decades, and works tirelessly to make Columbia a place where others can succeed.

The George & Nadine Trial Ambassador of the Year Award is given based upon the recipient’s spirit, dedication, community involvement, Chamber involvement and Ambassador attendance points at ribbon cuttings. Aulgur has been an Ambassador since 1994 and dedicated much of his time to welcoming businesses and celebrating milestones in the business community.

The Emerging Professional of the Year Award is about the journey a young professional has taken not only to become involved with Emerging Professionals In Columbia, but also their dedication to improve their community. Thompson is considered a leader amongst his peers. He has been a mentor and shining example to other young professionals since joining EPIC in 2016. He is intentional in helping others find ways to get involved with the organization and teach them the ins and outs of the business world.

The Women’s Network Debin Benish Outstanding Businesswoman is a role model to women who demonstrates success in business, exhibits leadership in supporting small business, volunteers in the community and creates positive change and mentors other businesswomen. Batye has held multiple leadership roles in the Chamber and Women’s Network for the past three years. She is viewed by many as a guide and example for other women and is the quintessential professional.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce was established in 1905 and is a voluntary, member-supported organization of business, industrial and professional people who are dedicated to developing, promoting and maintaining a sound and healthy economic climate for Columbia. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is recognized as a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the United States Chamber of Commerce.


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