FULTON, Ill. — Some of Fulton’s most influential business leaders joined together on Thursday at the annual Fulton Chamber of Commerce Dinner at Manny’s Too in Fulton.
Though the night aimed to honor and salute members of the Chamber who have stepped up as service leaders throughout the community, one undertone lingered during the event — what does the future hold for the Fulton Chamber of Commerce?
“A lot of people are concerned that Fulton’s going to suffer,” Chamber President Greg Naftzger said. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes this last year but many, many of the things we do as Chamber we can continue.”
Prior to Thursday’s annual dinner, many questions went unanswered for the Chamber of Commerce who lost executive director Heather Bennett nearly three weeks ago. To address some of those questions Naftzger, along with fellow Chamber board members and supporters, called on the Fulton City Council to create a potential partnership between the two entities.
While delivering his annual president’s speech on Thursday, Naftzger assured some of the Chamber members by saying discussions between the Chamber and the city are continuing and he was hopeful that a beneficial agreement would come from those discussions.
“We know it’s an ongoing process. It’s not going to be done in one or two weeks,” he said. “So, be patient, give me advice, give other chamber members advice, show up at our meetings and help us discuss where we need to go from here.”
After the concerns were addressed though, the night went back to it’s original purpose; to celebrate the Fulton Chamber of Commerce and all those who keep it a vital resource within the community.
Both Naftzger and Chamber board member Patty Houzenga received the award for volunteers of the year for their continued dedication to the city of Fulton and it’s residents. Irma Bland took home the first ever Heather Bennett Distinguished Service Award and a number of retired and newly inducted board members were honored.
Despite the Chamber of Commerce’s unknown future, the night ended on a positive note, with Naftzger leaving his fellow members with words of encouragement.
“There are a lot of things on our plate and I think the best for us now is to cooperate with the city so we can continue to be successful,” Naftzger said.