November 19, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Honors 2012 Award Winners

November 16, 2012

Chamber Award Winners 2012

2012 Mobile Area Chamber Board Chairman Michael Pierce with Commonwealth National Bank and Mobile Area Chamber President Win Hallett are pictured with the organization's 2012 award winners. Pictured are (front row, left to right): Paul Klotz, Thompson Engineering; Lisa Owen, BankTrust; and Kasie Irby, Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union; and (back row, left to right): Sherry Coker, BankTrust; Renie Baya, Thompson Engineering; John Weinacker, Weinacker's Montessori School; Jay Burdette, Alabama Power's Barry Steam Plant; Hallett; Pierce; Kevin Allen, Lenzing Fibers; Jason McKenzie, PNC Bank; Terri Owler, Arkema; and David Hagan, BankTrust. (Special to the Press-Register)

MOBILE, Alabama -- The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce recognized five companies and several individuals Friday during a joint meeting of the organization's governing board of directors and board of advisors.

Alabama Power Co.'s Barry Steam Plant was recognized as Innovator of the Year by the chamber's Gulf Coast Technology Council for its $174-million-dollar carbon capture facility. According to parent company Southern Co. the facility is the largest of its type in the world. Completed this year, the new facility reduces air emissions by compressing up to 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. In addition to the environmental benefit and jobs created at Alabama Power, carbon dioxide - when pumped into an underground geological formation in Citronelle - is driving out desirable crude oil and natural gas and creating additional jobs. Key partners in the project included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Denbury Resources.

Lenzing Fibers in Axis was named Manufacturer of the Year after completing a $30 million expansion, building capacity to 50,000 tons a year and adding 63 jobs along the way. Annually, Lenzing manufactures 30,000 tons of Tencel, a silky-like fiber used in clothing and other textile applications as well as personal, industrial and critical care wipes. Worldwide the Lenzing Group employs nearly 6,600, including 177 in Mobile County.

Weinacker's Montessori School was tapped as Small Business of the Year for showing continued year-to-year growth in revenue, employment and students. Owner John Weinacker is a product himself of the hands-on learning system that he now manages at seven sites in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Started in 1969 by his mother, Marcia, the program is based on the Italian program developed more than a century ago. Highly-skilled teachers help students - from infants to nine-years-old succeed by learning their ABCs, becoming bi-lingual, developing peer problem-solving skills and more.

Mobile's Thompson Engineering earned the 2012 Corporate Community Service Award for its involvement in projects supporting 73 local charitable organizations throughout the area. Signature projects include organizing the first Funky Monkey 5-K and Fun Run for the company's foundation, managing the Thompson Fishing Rodeo, weekly mentoring for Big Brothers - Big Sisters and activities for Penelope House. This award recognizes companies both large and small for their dedication and service to the community and is co-presented by the chamber and HandsOn South Alabama.

And finally, Kasie Irby was named Ambassador of the Year despite being a relative newcomer to the chamber's volunteer program. Irby, business development officer for Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union, has attended numerous ribbon cuttings and chamber events throughout the year and led for the year for visiting new members.

The organization also honored the following teams as Chamber Chase Award winners:

Team of the Year: BankTrust - David Hagan, captain

Top Overall Producer: Lisa Owen, BankTrust

Top Cash Producer: Terri Owler, Arkema

Most New Members: Sherry Coker, BankTrust

Top Rookie: Jason McKenzie, PNC Bank

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