Contributed by The Opelika Chamber

The Opelika Chamber of Commerce held its 79th Annual Meeting at The Bottling Plant Event Center on Nov. 13, 2020, to honor and celebrate their amazing members.  H & S Industrial Supplies and Services was the presenting sponsor for the event.  There were also six gold sponsors including Baxter International, Point Broadband, CMG Financial, Opelika Utilities, River Bank and Trust and Southern Union State Community College.

The event was a little different this year with only half capacity in attendance and half of the participants watching virtually.  Chamber Chairman Carlton Hunley IV,  Chamber President and CEO Ali Rauch, as well as Presenting Sponsor Raven Harvis gave out awards to very deserving businesses and individuals that exemplified the incredible service and spirit of Opelika.  Chamber partners, Keep Opelika Beautiful, Auburn Opelika Tourism and Opelika Main Street also gave out awards.

The most prestigious award is the Spirit of Opelika which goes to an extraordinary person in public service or private industry, and has brought exceptional benefit and/or recognition to our city, county, or state.    The late O.D. Alsobrook, a banker for 47 years, demonstrated this spirit as he immersed himself in the community, serving on many boards including the Opelika City School Board and the Rotary Club.  He had the gift of relationships and mentored many young men and women. He was a talented interior decorator, florist and master gardener and loved supporting the Auburn Tigers.   O.D.’s wife, Colleen, and sons Zach, Pearson, and Peyton accepted the award on his behalf. 

Other award winners were:

Distinguished Service Award – Laura Eason

Large Business of the Year – Golden State Foods

Small Business of the Year – Butcher Paper BBQ

Young Professional of the Year – Rosanna McGinnis, Cooper Memorial Library

Community Partner  – John Emerald Distilling Company

Customer Service Champion – Laura Brown, Grady’s Tire & Auto

Visionary Award – Greg Leikvold

Ambassador – Billy Plummer

Chairman’s Award – Carlton Hunley III

Partner Awards:    

Keep Opelika Beautiful – Billie Oliver

Auburn Opelika Tourism – AU Hospitality

Opelika Main Street – Southern Crossings

Chairman Hunley commented that he was introduced to many aspects of the Chamber during his time in the 20 Under 40 program.  “I understood that being involved in the Chamber would help grow my family’s small business.  I had some insight into the issues and needs that can plague small businesses.  I knew the Opelika Chamber was a strong chamber that made such an impact in the community and am so proud to be a small part of what this Chamber is doing,” said Hunley.  Hunley also believes the Chamber roots run deep and added, “We respect nature, take pride in a job well done, get to know our neighbors and live a balanced life.  Add in excellent heath care, quality education and lots of cultural events and you’ve got the best place to call home.”

Bill Loosier of Edward Jones Investments will be at the helm of the Chamber for its 80th birthday.  A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Bill graduated from Auburn University with a marketing degree and moved back to Gainesville to run the family’s small business.  After a few years, Bill and his family moved back to Opelika and began a 13-year career as a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments.  Loosier thanked everyone for coming and asked everyone to energize their businesses by getting involved in the Opelika Chamber.  “I’m looking forward to a big party for the 80th Anniversary!”

Ali Rauch thanked the sponsors, those in attendance and watching virtually again said she hoped everyone was feeling proud and appreciative of this community.  She ended the meeting by saying, “In a world full of bad news, we are happy to present all good things here today.  We love this community and will continue working hard to improve it and move it forward.”

About the Opelika Chamber of Commerce

Founded in 1941, the Opelika Chamber has been serving the Opelika business community for over 75 years.  Under the leadership of Ali Rauch, the president and CEO, a staff of four work diligently to be the prominent, focal business organization supporting economic growth while sustaining a better quality of life for the community through multiple partnerships. The Opelika Chamber of Commerce promotes and fosters economic and business success, maximizes member investment, while enhancing the community.