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20131015-Mission-C-of-C-and-PT-Awards-Banquet- dy-028Working together was the theme of the night as Mission business leaders gathered Tuesday to celebrate the year’s successes and eyed the future with excitement.

At the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, Board Chairwoman Sandra Vecchio, or RV Contractors, handed over the reins to incoming Chairman Rob Neagle, managing partner of Chili’s. The chamber always strives for excellence, Vecchio said, adding that she expects to see continued growth with Neagle at the helm.

“I’ve always envisioned the Mission Chamber of Commerce as the lighthouse of the community in which it serves,” Vecchio said. “Our success is not ours, but yours.”

George Myers, president/CEO of the chamber, pointed toward the city’s streetscape project and the Mission Economic Development Corporation’s downtown façade improvement program that will complement the street improvements. The chamber will revamp its Go Mission campaign to coincide with the projects. Go Mission is aimed at to creating awareness and driving traffic to the new and improved downtown Mission.

“We’ve never been more member focused, never been more visible and we’ve never been more active,” Myers said.

Neagle echoed Myers, emphasizing the city’s work to get funding at local and federal levels for the streetscape project as well as the EDC’s incentive.

“That, my friends, is working together,” he said. “We must all do our part to keep business strong.”

Neagle pointed to the diverse board of directors that includes pastors, realtors, funeral home directors and “a guy that flips burgers and shakes margaritas.”

“Despite our differences, we board members share one common goal, that’s to keep Mission a healthy, thriving community with exceptional quality,” Neagle said. “Citrus greening, drought conditions, immigration reform, changes in healthcare, fear of spillover violence, all of these challenges we must face as a unified community.

“We cannot afford to let the differences which have hindered Washington, D.C., affect Mission, Texas.”

He used a local woman he often sees at Chili’s as an example of keeping Mission strong. Neagle said he once asked her if she ever eats at another Chili’s restaurant.

“I only shop and eat in Mission,” she replied. “I’m not doing Mission any good if I spend money in McAllen.”

“Words to live by,” Neagle said. “With a simple dining choice, she is doing her part.”

Also Tuesday night, the chamber recognized businesses and business leaders with three awards.

Diplomat of the Year is given to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to the chamber and whose integrity, initiative and creativity have enhanced the growth of chamber activities. The nominees were Buster Brown of Texas Citrus Fiesta, Rachel De La Garza of Ignite, and Nancy Logan. Rachel De La Garza was selected as Diplomat of the Year.

The Business of the Year award goes to a business in the greater Mission area that has shown a longstanding contribution to the community. The nominees were Spikes Ford, Holiday Inn Express and Desperado Harley Davidson, which took home the honor.

The final award from the chamber is Business Leader of the Year, awarded to business people in the community who have show business acumen, support for the chamber and an active interest in the betterment of the business community. The nominees were Fred Kurth, Marilyn Hardison of Star Properties and Sarah Hammond of Atlas Electric. Hardison was given the award.

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