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Local businesses awarded at Chamber of Commerce breakfast

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Crime Stoppers Emerald Queen Casino

It’s a year of transition for the Fife-Milton Edgewood Chamber of Commerce, but there was still time to honor the past year at the chamber’s annual awards breakfast on Feb. 20, held at the Emerald Queen Casino in Fife. The breakfast allowed businesses from across the three cities to come together and celebrate all they have accomplished over the last year.

Northwest Embroidery took the Community Champion Award, a company that gives all it can to various community efforts, whether they are taking the league or not.

“What an honor it is to be in a class with all of you,” April Balsley said.

Tacoma Diesel won the Economic Driver Award, to the surprise of the staff, which didn’t think their small business would be in the same class of some of the larger competitors.

“It’s a testament to small business,” owner Mike Porter said. “The real heart and soul is small business.”

The Rising Star Award went to Charter College, which has had a big impact in the community in the short time they have been open.

“We thought we were just part of the community; we didn’t realize we were such rising stars within it,” President of Charter College Ed Hardenbrook said.

The Impact Business of the Year Award went to Port of Tacoma, whose importance has only been heightened due to the recent strikes.

“A lot of the time people don’t realize how important businesses are until they’re gone,” Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Johnson said.

The awards breakfast also served as an opportunity for new Chamber Chairman Mike Porter to make his first speech and express his vision going into the future.

“It’s kind of like jumping into a new car,” Porter said

He looks at the chamber as something that has been restored, as through rough times the chamber has been reborn and with a laser tight focus it can continue to accomplish its goals.

“We are financially stable, growing and focused,” Porter said.

In additional awards, Chamber member Colleen McDonald won for Ambassador of the Year, and Chairman’s Recognition went to Katie Flannigan and PK MacLean.

The special speaker for the breakfast was Congressman Denny Heck, who spoke on several pick events coming up within the next six months to keep an eye on, as well as the importance of small businesses, reminding those assembled that the biggest conglomerates didn’t start out that way, but began small.

The events Heck believes businesses should be keeping an eye on include the funding of homeland security as well as the local transportation improvement package in the county that would complete the SR-167 project.

“The purpose of the package is to lay the foundation for private sector growth over time,” Heck said.

The third event to keep an eye on is the U.S. Open being held at Chambers Bay in June, an event that will affect thousands of businesses all across the state. The fourth event is the expiration of the export/import bank, an entity that loans money to foreign buyers looking to purchase local goods. The fifth event to keep an eye on, according to Heck, is the fiscal budget for 2016, which could feature some serious cuts, potentially to Joint Base Lewis Mcchord, that would greatly affect the economy of the South Sound.

The FME Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that seeks to strengthen the local economy, promote the community, provide networking opportunities, represent businesses to the government and engage in political action.

For more information on the FME chamber, visit