It was a lovely January evening at the GranTree Inn when the Bozeman Chamber Annual Banquet brought together over 350 chamber members to network, celebrate successes of the past year, and honor outgoing and incoming board members and volunteers.
Each year, one chamber member is awarded the Sperry Award. Named after Guy Sperry, the Executive Director of the Chamber for twenty years, Sperry was known for his outgoing spirit and ability to give more than what was asked for or required. Each year, an individual is selected for the award based on their dedication and service to the Bozeman Area Community and contributions to the private enterprise system. This year’s recipient was Bruce Grubbs, a retired Executive Director for Southwest Montana School Services, former Representative of Montana House District 68 and now a SCORE mentor, helping entrepreneurs start and build small businesses.
Another distinguished award is the Green Coat of the Year. Green Coats, the official ambassadors for the Bozeman Area Chamber, are chosen for their contributions to the Chamber and their dedication to the community. In addition, Green Coats serve as mentors, welcoming new Chamber members and encouraging participation in Chamber programs and events. This year’s Green Coat of the Year went to Vern VeltKamp, owner of the VeltKamp Agency, a health and life insurance agency serving Bozeman for over 40 years.
Looking ahead to 2022, Chamber President and CEO Daryl Schliem offered insight into the Chamber’s priorities. He noted the biggest challenge for the upcoming year is to resolve the emergency housing issue to address homelessness and mental health in our area. Schliem highlighted a partnership between the city and county, HRDC, the Chamber, Gallatin Association of Realtors, Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, local banks, and private businesses who are working together to solidify funding for the $4.2 million needed to complete the emergency housing project. They are hoping funding will be finalized by March, allowing the project to move forward.
Schliem discussed the impressive Workforce Housing progress that is underway, with nearly 1,800 new units either currently under construction or will be coming to the area over the next few years. A mix of apartments, townhouses, and single-family dwellings will be offered at more affordable rates and will substantially help with workforce housing.
Other topics the Chamber will be focusing on in the coming year are workforce development, daycare and public transportation.
Schliem called on the business community, the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, and the State of Montana to pull together, get involved and be a voice for change.
The Bozeman Chamber Annual Banquet is held each year in January and is a sell-out event, usually with a waiting list! For information on next year’s banquet, contact the Chamber at 406. 586.5421.