Local business leaders and pillars of the community turned out in style Jan. 6 to Diamond Point Steakhouse north of Sauk Centre for Black and White, the Sauk Centre Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner and Sauk Centre Serves awards ceremony. The event celebrated both the successes of businesses and the year the chamber enjoyed as a whole.

“In 2019, we had our highest number of members since the chamber began,” said Jill Niehaus, the chamber’s outgoing chair. “This year alone, we had 36 new businesses join the chamber, and we have a total of 215 businesses as members.”

Another of the chamber’s successes was its first Designer Bag Bingo, held April 13, 2019, which brought in a large crowd to Sauk Centre, supported the chamber and local vendors and helped fund the summer’s fireworks.

Niehaus acknowledged the service of two longtime chamber members who are stepping down: Pam Durbin, who has been with the chamber for 21 years, and Jamie Shoutz, who has been a chamber board member and chair for 15 years. Niehaus also welcomed three new members to the board – Amanda Ritter, Amy Poepping and Kayla Bueckers – and introduced the new chair, Nicki Vogt, and new vice chair, B.J. Welle.

Before the dinner began, the Rev. Mike Carlson, pastor of First Lutheran Church in Sauk Centre, commented on the town’s healthy business community.

“What’s great about tonight is that we’re all together,” Carlson said. “We have people who have businesses that compete against one another, but it doesn’t matter because we’re a community. The chamber of commerce reminds us that we represent Sauk Centre.”

Among the Sauk Centre Serves awards given that evening was a new category, Student Citizen of the Year, given to a young adult whose community work both in and out of school has made an impact. The award was given to Kali Sayovitz, with Jordan Hartmann and Greta Kerfeld as runner-up nominees.