Over the last four and a half years, Temple has experienced nothing short of a renaissance with the seemingly constant addition of new businesses, which brings new jobs to the city. Salute to Business, the annual event hosted by the Temple Chamber of Commerce brought together more than 500 members of Temple’s business community to acknowledge and celebrate the continued transformation resulting from the growth of these companies.
Originally scheduled for Jan. 31, the Chamber’s signature event was postponed to Feb. 7 out of concern for public safety in the face of the winter storm that visited the area last week.
“We’ve never experienced this with Salute to Business,” said Chamber President Rod Henry. “The Chamber team dedicates months to planning what we consider the largest of our signature initiatives. Moving it unexpectedly involved the help, cooperation, and grace of vendors, sponsors, attendees, and community leaders.” He continued, ”We would like to extend a special thanks to Let Us Do The Cooking who prepared and delivered the original unused groceries to The Salvation Army of Bell County.
Despite the last-minute change and rainy weather, Salute to Business 2023 was well-attended and went as planned by kicking off with Taste of Temple, a showcase of local eateries. Guests were treated to samples of featured dishes from Bliss Candy, Bold Republic Brewery, H-E-B Temple #182, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Temple-Belton, Mo's Rail Yard Saloon & Grill, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Wings Pizza 'N Things.
The evening continued with Katie Comer, Head of Community Development, North America of Meta, who presented Temple ISD with a $75,000 grant on behalf of the company. Temple is the new home of a data center for the social technology company behind platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The grant represents a strategic partnership with Temple ISD to support the reengineering of STEM Programs.
Keynote speaker Shannon Brown, the recently retired Senior Vice President of Eastern Division U.S. Operations, and Chief HR/Diversity Officer of FedEx Express delivered a message highlighting the importance of a skilled and diverse workforce created through mutually beneficial relationships between local businesses and schools. Brown spoke of his rise within the ranks of the FedEx organization and attributed it to his willingness to change and adapt, a nod to transformation, the theme of this year’s event.
“There are two ways most people experience change,” said Brown. “The easy way or the painful way. And unfortunately, most people take the painful route,” he said.
Brown acknowledged the Chamber’s role in supporting the local business climate, contributing to the growth of local businesses. Following the work of the Chamber’s Community Partner, the Temple Economic Development Corporation, the city was selected as the site of the newly constructed FedEx facility, which is expected to open in 2023 bringing new job opportunities to Temple. Brown emphasized the importance of providing residents with opportunities to earn wages that afford them the ability to participate in and sustain the health of the local economy.
President of Cadence Bank Robert Jones, who serves as Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, presented Gayle Kiger of KCEN Channel 6 with a soaring eagle statue and a print of the Santa Fe Depot –tokens of appreciation for his leadership and service as Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors in 2022.
The Chamber also recognized major sponsors for Salute to Business including Platinum Sponsors City of Temple; Central National Bank, McLane Group; Cefco; Fikes Companies; Wilsonart; Ludwick, Montgomery & Stapp. P.C.; Meta; and Emerson Construction; as well as Diamond Sponsors Panda Power Funds; KCEN Channel 6; and Extraco Banks.
Events such as Salute to Business are made possible with the help of The Ambassadors of the Temple Chamber, a volunteer council of Chamber members who assisted with setup, guest check-in, and clean-up among other duties.
“Chamber Ambassadors are such an essential part of everything the Chamber does,” said Bobbie Jo King, Director of Membership Development for the Temple Chamber of Commerce. “We appreciate the time, dedication, and energy they bring to Chamber events big and small.”
Salute to Business is held on the fourth Tuesday of each January. For details on how to participate in Salute to Business 2024, please contact the Temple Chamber of Commerce at 254-773-2105.