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Benson named Franklin Citizen of the Year

Chamber banquet centers on growth

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LOUISBURG — The Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce held its 43rd annual Banquet and Membership Meeting Jan. 16 at Green Hill Club to celebrate another year of business growth and recognize those within the community.

Among those who took top honors was Citizen of the Year honoree Cheryl Benson. Benson was recognized for her efforts through the Franklin County Education Foundation, a nonprofit setup that helps recruit teachers and encourage retainment.

“Her efforts to make Franklin County a better place to live, work and play are equaled by few others, said Chamber Executive Director John Barnes, the master of ceremonies. “You have been elected to an elite group of a very select few who have been honored and distinguished as Citizen of the Year.”

“The least I can say is that I’m very humbled by this,” Benson said. “It probably wouldn’t have happened except for this community and all the business leaders that I’ve worked with”

The Chamber also recognized its Ambassador of the Year, Tyler Manning, and its Director of the Year, Charles Mitchell.

Dr. Al Sayles and Paige Sayles’ Blue Collie Coffee was recognized as the chamber’s Small Business of the Year. The nonprofit offers coffee, pastries and sandwiches and provides jobs to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

During the two-hour event, guests were treated to a three-course meal of fruit salad, steak and chicken with rice and an assortment of dessert selections.

Barnes recognized banquet sponsors Maria Parham Franklin, Duke Energy, Franklin County Schools, the town of Louisburg and Winslow Custom Homes.

“I also want to recognize our exceptional staff,” Barnes said. “You will not find a more caring, more enthusiastic team of professionals devoted to helping you grow your business.”

Chamber Board of Directors Chair Allen White concluded the meeting by saying that the chamber’s focus in 2020 will be on using new technologies to advise potential customers about chamber businesses and the benefits that come with chamber support.

“The consumers are seeing what our staff are creating and that’s what this new chamber is all about,” White said.

He continued: “We’re simply focusing our energies toward digitally promoting Franklin County, specifically chamber members; but we need your help.”

White asked members to inform them about potential hirings, sales, promotions and other info so the chamber could get that extra word out.

“Tell us what you’re doing,” White said. “We cannot promote you if you don’t tell us.”