FORT WALTON BEACH — The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce's Annual Installation Banquet was Jan. 7 at the First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach.
The chamber's 2021 chair, Heather Ruiz, was guest speaker at the event. She shared some of the chambers highlights of the year.
"The chamber had an immensely successful year in 2021," Ruiz said. "We were able to lay the foundation for us to take our membership benefits to the next level. Being the chairman truly was a highlight of my career, and I look forward to Gus’ leadership in 2022."
Among the highlights Ruiz noted were:
Passing the countywide bed tax.
Celebrating the chamber's 75th anniversary, in association with White-Wilson Medical Center and the Northwest Florida Daily News.
Implementation of a new membership dues program offering dozens of new benefits to chamber members.
Ruiz also shared her personal career successes she has generated via her FWB chamber connections — including her position as director of marketing with Bit-Wizards.
More from the Chamber: Gala marks 75th anniversary for Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce
The chamber also presented its annual awards during the breakfast. This year's winners were:
Hugh Kendall Community Impact Award — Mike and Marcia WrightReynolds.
Teddy Awards, a bobble head prize issued by the chair to individuals or organizations who offered special assistance during the chair’s year of leadership, were presented to Lisa Jo Spencer and Jessy Bautista for planning the 75th Anniversary Party; Stephen Smit, Ken Nielsen and the Bit-Wizards team for their assistance in passing the countywide bed tax; and to April Sarver/Nick Tomecek with Okaloosa County's Public Information Office.
Community Cheerleader — Holly Karr.
Chamber Marketing/Membership Initiatives — Maureen Bierman/Nic Dezinski.
Ambassador of the Year—Trisha Marks, Simple HR.
Small Business of the Year—Get the Coast.
Corporate Business of the Year—Eglin Federal Credit Union.
Daniel "Gus" Gusoff, owner of Emerald Cost Harley-Davidson, was named the 2022 chair of the board. He shared his business history and long association with the Harley brand. He mentioned how important the chamber and this community have been to his business and his family.
Gusoff said the chamber's priorities for the year are to enhance its value to its membership and expand relations and support for the area's military personnel and community.
This article originally appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Greater Fort Walton Chamber presents 2021 awards, names 2022 chair