Transforming from Ladies Night Out to Black Gold Texas Tea and adding a trio of awards helped increase the value of the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce’s annual event.
While it has always been about honoring businesswomen in Kilgore, Chamber President Cindy Morris said, the changes reflect the desire of the Chamber board to make sure all programming and programs add value for members and investors.
The directive from the board came during last year’s planning retreat, and makes sure the programs remain focused on the Chamber’s purpose of being a voice for local businesses.
“We took Ladies Night Out, which is a great networking, fun event and we changed the name,” Morris said. “We added the recognition program then just focused on a Women in Business evening.”
The changes did not go unnoticed, with the Chamber seeing a 31 percent increase in attendance at the event held this year at the Texas Museum of Broadcasting & Communications.
Three leaders in the Kilgore community were recognized as the first recipients of the Chamber’s Women in Business awards.
Amanda Nobles, Charlotte Mobbs and Jessica Holmes were each honored as the Lifetime Star Achiever, The Shining Star and The Rising Star award recipients, respectively.
“Each of our nominees has made a tremendous impact in our business community,” Morris said when introducing the awards. “They lead by example and give back tenfold to our community.”
The Kilgore Chamber of Commerce accepted nominations for award recipients through March 28. The awards were designed to recognize women who “approach community and business needs with strong leadership, collaboration and intentionality to affect change and influence their surroundings,” Morris introduced.
After receiving submissions, the nominees were evaluated based on leadership, collaboration and ability to effect change in business and influence their surroundings.
Holmes, realtor at Mobbs Real Estate, was awarded The Rising Star award, which recognizes women with “10 years or less work experience who consistently portray excellence in leadership traits and established business strategies to solve problems and create new ways of doing business.”
Also nominated for the award was Downtown D’Lites owner Debbie VanDoren.
Mobbs, owner and realtor at Mobbs Real Estate, received The Shining Star award. The award was established to recognize the winner’s “10 years or more work experience who embodies high standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishment to their respective organization, industry and to the business community.”
Also nominated was Julie Woods, of Julie Woods and Associates Real Estate Firm.
Nobles, executive director of Kilgore Economic Development Corporation, did not have any competition in receiving the Lifetime Star Achiever award, which recognizes “an individual with at least 25 years of professional experience… who has been inspirational, made positive impact and significant contributions to her industry and the community.”
“Our team agreed at the beginning of developing the award program that there was one person most deserving of this award and we were each honored to make that nomination,” Morris said introducing Nobles. “The recipient is a role model to everyone who comes in contact with her. She gives back to the community through involvement, volunteer service and a voice of wisdom. She has worked diligently to change the face of Kilgore during the past 30-plus years, and change it she has.”
In her introduction, Morris noted Nobles’ service to Kilgore Main Street as executive director from 1987-1990 and her position as executive director of the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation for the last 27 years. Nobles is recognized, Morris said, as a “top economic development leader” through her work and love of Kilgore.
“The result of her leadership and management has resulted in KEDC closing projects representing – now this is impressive – more than $300 million in investments and 13,000 retained and new jobs,” she continued. “In addition, the land where KEDC industrial parks are located have increased in value by not 50 percent, but by 3,894 percent.”
Morris called KEDC “one of the most successful economic development corporations that exists” while recognizing Nobles for her “leadership, inspiration, positive impact and significant contributions to her industry and community.”
Even with the added awards and keynote speech from motivational speaker and KLTV anchor Anissa Centers, the event did not lose its fun factor. Local business owners set up their booths as vendors for another year and the annual purse raffle returned with a few more raffle prizes from the vendors.
Morris called the event a “tremendous success,” and was happy to see the increased participation with about 43 more than last year’s event. She called it one of the biggest crowds the Chamber had seen at the event.
When planning the Black Gold Texas Tea this year, the Relationship Climate Committee’s goals were to increase the number of companies attending, increase overall attendance and prove the added value the event brings to members by recognizing companies and employees.
“One of the great things about the evening was it became everything and more than our relationship climate team planned it to be,” Morris said.