Chamber celebrates 100 years, recognizes businesses at Awards banquet

The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated excellence in business within the Natchitoches community and its own 100th Anniversary at the Awards Banquet Jan. 24.

“One-hundred years in business is no small feat,” said Chamber President Laura Lyles. “And it’s because of invaluable members like all of you here tonight that our Chamber is able to celebrate another year.”

After recognizing dignitaries and banquet sponsors, Laura recognized the real VIPs of the evening: the Chamber Ambassadors, which included Barbara Leach, JoAnna Washington, Michele Waskom, Micah Fishee, Sarah Stewart, Felicia Murphy, Liz LaBorde, Rebecca Salter, Kim Gallow, Luke Lucky, Kelvin Porter, Candice JeanSonne, Emily Breedlove, Heather Montoya, and Jacob Murchison. Ambassadors not present were Blaise Lacour, Melissa Tucker, Brooke Latham, Trudy Williamson, and Lance Nelson.

Laura also announced that a familiar face will return to the Chamber: Maggie Harris will rejoin the Chamber staff next month as Event Coordinator.

Incoming Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors John Richmond presented outgoing Chairman Ryan Todtenbier with a plaque recognizing the tremendous effort he put into his tenure. Ryan also handed the gavel to John after a quick rap on the podium and well wishes.

“Natchitoches is poised to do some amazing things in the next 5, 10, and 15 years,” said John. “As the Chamber, we want to take advantage of the momentum we’ve built in 2018 with the A+ Coalition and the NYP and really go wild with it.”

Ryan said he is extremely proud of the work the Chamber did in his year as Chairman. “We were able to introduce some new programs that were very successful,” he said.

John then announced an exciting initiative the Chamber will introduce in 2019 called the Natchitoches Leadership Institute (NaLI for short). This institute will work on the local level to bring together a diverse group of Natchitoches Parish leaders over the course of the year to learn all about the Parish, the good, the bad and the ugly, in eight broad categories that are specific to Natchitoches. With that information, each cohort of graduates will discuss and act on ways to advance the Parish forward. In the coming year, the Chamber will finalize the details of the program and recruit its first class in the fall.

“We think this will be a game changer for the underlying dynamics of our Parish,” said John.

The 2019 Board of Directors includes: Chairman John Richmond, Post-Chair Ryan Todtenbier, Vice-Chair Tom Matuschka, Treasurer Josh Manuel, Katrice Below, Melissa Collier, Haley Taitano, Nicole Ezernack, Van Erikson, JoAnna Washington, Brad McCormick, Mario Fox, Stewart Carnline, and NYP Chairman Sean Baylor.

The Chamber presented NYP’s 4 Under 40 Awards to the following:

Micah Foshee- Marketing Assistant at BOM
Rodrick McIntosh- CEO of Rhodes Realty
Randee Knapp- Human Resources Department at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center
Ryan Todtenbier- Partner at Thomas, Cunningham, Broadway and Todtenbier CPAs

The following Chamber Awards were presented:

Ambassador of the Year: Barbara Leach
Lifetime Achievement: Richard Gill
Town Favorite: BOM
Non-Profit of the Year: Outpatient Medical Center
New Business of the Year: Rhodes Realty
Small Business of the Year: Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center
Mid-Size Business of the Year: Ivan Smith Furniture & Appliances
Large Business of the Year: Southern Scripts


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