The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 19, at the Hormel Historic Home. Following dinner and dessert, the membership business meeting was held. Kris Johnson, Mayo Health Care System; Justin Akkerman, Akkerman Inc; Israel Gonzalez, 1910 Fresh Mexican Kitchen; and Mark Nibaur, Austin Utilities were elected to the board of directors for a threeyear term. Additionally, awards were given out for Lifetime Achievement, Volunteer of the Year, Ambassador of the Year and Ambassador Team of the Year, Past President and Board Chair Award, as well as recognition for six of the Founding Members.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was established by the Chamber Board of Directors in 2002 as a means of raising awareness of the contributions business leaders make to the community and our local economy. Nominees can be current or retired business owners or managers with 20 or more years of service. Consideration is given for business success, Chamber and community involvement, leadership and promotion of the business community.

Joe Fuhrman, former realtor, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Starting at Britt Real Estate, Fuhrman has been a realtor since 1976. In 1980, he decided to open his own firm in Austin, Fuhrman Real Estate, selling $8-$10 million dollars in real estate every year. In 2017 he joined forces with Re/Max Results until his retirement in October of this year.  Fuhrman has been a very active member of the Austin community, having served on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors and several committees. He is also an active board member at St. Edwards Catholic Church and on the church council. He has also served on the welcome Center and the Salvation Army boards.

Dale Wicks was honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award. Dale is serving his second term on the Board of Directors and is also a member of the Executive, Agri-Business, Government Affairs, Grow Minnesota, and Human Resources Committees, the Workforce Development Taskforce and is a year leader for Leadership Austin.

May 10, 2020 will mark the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce’s 80th anniversary.  Since the incorporation of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, these founding members have had continuous membership. Founding Member Awards went to Adams, Rizzi & Sween P.A., Austin Daily Herald, Austin Veterinary Clinic, Credit Bureau, Home Federal Savings Bank and US Bank.

Jana Norman, incoming chamber board chair and Publisher for the Austin Daily Herald presented Bill Budion, Austin Country Club Manager with the Past President award for his service in 2018 and the Board Chair ward for his continued leadership in 2019. Jana acknowledged Bill’s tremendous leadership through the transition of chamber staff and programming.

Lisa Gresham was awarded with the Ambassador of the Year Award, presented by current Ambassador President, Jaclyn Bird. The Ambassador Team of the Year Award went to Justin Bickler, Brandon Duclos, Shannon Elkin, Lisa Gresham, Tasha Kroneman, Brenda Landherr, Molly Lanke, Alissa Penkava, Tim Ross.

For more information about the chamber, vist their webpage at or stop by their office at 329 N. Main Street in Austin.