by Mallory Gruben
The Tillamook Chamber of Commerce on Saturday raised nearly $75,000 for community programming, introduced the new Tillamook Chamber Community Foundation and honored the 2022 Community Award recipients at “A Night in Greece,” the 80th Annual Tillamook Chamber Community Awards Banquet and Auction.
The event brought 350 community members together in-person for the Chamber’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“The money raised through the banquet and auction allow us to continue to support the community throughout the year with programming like the June Dairy Parade, Mornings on Main Street, Sip + Shop and so much more,” said Chamber Executive Director Justin Aufdermauer. “A large portion of the funds raised at the banquet will also serve as the financial basis for the Tillamook Chamber Community Foundation, a new 501(c)3 that will build and coordinate leadership, fundraising and capacity for projects and programs that enhance the vitality of communities in Tillamook County.”
The Foundation will act as a “convener, catalyst and champion,” by bringing together local agencies, funding projects and programs and improving the quality of life in Tillamook County for everyone. One of the first Foundation initiatives is Young Pros Tillamook, a young professionals program set to launch in February.
“Young Pros Tillamook will provide a network of likeminded young professionals who can work together to grow personally and professionally while they connect and engage with each other and the broader community,” Aufdermauer said. “We expect this group to help develop and keep talented, up-and-coming leaders in our local workforce.”
The highlight of the banquet, though, is always the announcement of the Community Award recipients. The Chamber distributed awards in five categories: Development Project of the Year, Program of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year.
The Community Awards Committee, a panel of past award recipients and community members, selected this year’s recipients from a pool of nominations made by county residents in late 2021. More information about each award and its recipient is listed below.
“There were so many amazing people, businesses, projects and programs on our list of nominations, and picking just one recipient in each category was no easy task,” said Rieger, Chamber Board vice president. “In the end, the Awards Committee relied heavily on the four criteria of the award to make its final decision. All of the recipients this year demonstrated an outstanding commitment to community, with a broad reach of benefit for so many different people in Tillamook County.”
The Awards weighs four main criteria in selecting the final recipient. Those criteria include how the nominees enhanced the quality of life in Tillamook County in 2021; who was served by the nominee’s accomplishments and how broad the demographic reach of those people is; how the nominee shows a continued commitment to the community; and what the long-term benefits of the nominee’s work are.
“The Community Awards give us a chance to reflect on the year and celebrate the amazing work being done in our community that makes Tillamook County a great place to live, work and play,” Aufdermauer said.
Development Project of the Year
Intended to honor a new construction, building or outdoor area renovation or other capital improvements made in 2022, Development Project of the Year was awarded to Tillamook Grocery Outlet. The long-awaited grocery store opened its doors in June 2021, completing a years-long project to bring a quality yet low-cost grocery option to Tillamook County.
“Owner-Operators Stephen and Tamara Tuttle fought hard and for many years to be here in Tillamook, proving their commitment to this community,” said Chamber Board President Lisa Greiner as she presented the award.
Greiner added that that Tillamook Grocery Outlet serves a huge demographic of people, from locals and tourists, and from low-wage earners to high-wage earners. That broad reach of people benefited helped this project stand out to the Awards Committee, she said.
Program of the Year
An award to recognize organizations, projects, events and other work that does not fall into a traditional business category, Program of the Year recognizes one program that enhances the quality of life in Tillamook County. Selecting Tillamook County Public Health as this year’s recipient was a “no brainer,” said Justin McMahan while presenting the award.
“It’s hard not to recognize our nurses and public health workers for their efforts during the second year of the pandemic,” McMahan said. “While it’s their job to keep us healthy, they didn’t sign up for that job knowing anything that the last year would throw at them. And yet, they’ve stepped up to meet the challenge.”
Representatives from Tillamook County Health were unable to attend the banquet, but the agency did submit a note thanking the community for its nomination.
“It has, without a doubt, been one of the most challenging years that this program has ever experienced. This team of people have been working tirelessly to provide all their standard and customary services, while also providing the unprecedented local response to the global pandemic. … There is a great appreciation for the recognition that comes with being nominated,” the note said.
Small Business of the Year
Small Business of the Year honors a Tillamook County business with 10 or fewer employees. West Elliott Boutique earned the title this year for its energy, enthusiasm and elegant storefront. In its review of nominees, the Awards Committee noted that the business “hit its stride” in 2021, growing its inventory and community involvement.
“Their renovated shop brightens a spot that previously sat empty at the entrance to the Downtown district, and they jump at every opportunity to be involved in the community,” said Natalie Rieger while presenting the award. “They even encourage their friends and family to come downtown, increasing foot traffic for all of the other downtown retailers.”
Business of the Year
Aimed at local businesses with more than 10 employees, Business of the Year went to Werner Family Brands, which has won past Community Awards for its individual businesses but never as a whole entity. The company includes Werner Gourmet Meat Snacks, Werner Brewing and Werner Beef & Brew.
“Werner Family Brands is a business that keeps showing up in our nominations in some way or another — and for good reason. This business pours itself into the community in so many ways,” said John Jackson while presenting the award. “It seems to pop up everywhere, from supporting youth athletic events to donating nonprofit fundraisers.”
The business also demonstrated a continued commitment to community in 2021 by expanding facilities, adding new products, hiring new staff and increasing wages and benefits for employees.
Citizen of the Year
One of the longest running Community Awards, Citizen of the Year honors one individual who made a significant impact in Tillamook County in 2021. This year Terry Phillips received the award for his willingness to employ residents who may have had a rocky past but deserve a second chance, as well as his continued investment in housing projects and commercial building renovations.
“Terry takes on a personal financial risk to invest in standard, two-bedroom homes to ease the workforce housing shortage — even when he could build larger homes with more lucrative payouts for himself,” Aufdermauer said. “He’s continued to invest in the Tillamook County community throughout 2021 with his recent purchase and ongoing renovation of the National Building on Second and Main. His work has touched many lives, and we are proud to recognize Terry as Citizen of the Year.”