The Ashland Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit, community-based business organization, works in collaboration with numerous businesses, organizations along with government to support and enhance the economy and quality of life for Ashland citizens, businesses and visitors.

The Ashland Chamber believes that economic sustainability is critical to the successful future of Ashland. Factors contributing to economic sustainability drive programs, projects and issues engaging hundreds of individuals who share the same concerns and hold similar values. Supporting independent businesses through educational opportunities and promotion, improving the quality of life by enhancing our amenities, creating community events and providing opportunities to engage in thoughtful discussions drive us forward.

Innovative and creative thinking develop this collaboration to improve our community assets and tackle challenging problems. An optimistic approach combined with openness and inclusive attitudes underscore the Ashland Chamber’s belief that a greater number of people participating creates better results. More than 700 business members reflect many voices whose opinions matter and contribute to the success of the chamber and, therefore, improve the economy.

A dedicated and committed Board of Directors comprised of business leaders from various economic sectors and community representation of lead organizations and governments, combined with a dedicated and innovative staff, creates and manages all projects, events, committees and programs throughout the year.

The highest recognition given by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce was awarded Oct. 8 at the 109th annual dinner celebration for 2015 with more than 250 guests in attendance at the Historic Ashland Armory.

The theme was "Embracing a Healthy Life and Community" with featured guest speaker Nick Buettner of the Blue Zones project.

The president’s gavel was exchanged from outgoing two-term Ashland Chamber President Cindy Bernard of Rogue Valley Roasting Company to incoming President Marie Donovan, owner of Ashland Homes Real Estate.

The top awards for the evening were presented to many individuals for their business successes and community contributions:

• Ashland Culinary Festival Top Chef 2014 James Williams of Omar’s;

• Green Business of the Year: True South Solar;

• Greeter of the Year: Gill Anderson & Shelby Platt;

• Retail Business of the Year: Ashland Hardware;

• Service Business of the Year: Ashland Independent Film Festival;

• Manufacturing Business of the Year: Branson’s Chocolate;

• Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Jenny Thurston;

• Citizen of the Year: Mt. Ashland Board & Staff; and

• Honorary Life Member: John Karns, Ashland Fire Chief.

All awards recipients received awards highlighting their accomplishments.

Sandra Slattery is executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.