OXFORD — The Oxford Chamber of Commerce held its Red Bricks to Progress awards ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 26. The event included a speech from Miami University President Greg Crawford and Dr. Renate Crawford, entertainment by Eaton native Sid Davis, and the recognition of Businesses of the Year.
Animal Care Clinic and Shademakers Nursery & Landscape were honored as Oxford Business of the Year award winners.
Animal Care Clinic was the first business recognized. Nominators commented about the “best customer service ever,” and “lots of joy when you visit the clinic.” The staff contributes to the community by helping with the Wine Festival, Oxford Dog Park, and Summer Concerts. They even help find homes for abandoned animals.
Dr. Molly Buckley thanked the chamber for the honor.
“My staff is phenomenal,” Buckley said. “They come every day with nothing but compassion and they’re a fountain of compassion. Then they go home and they learn new things, they continually educate themselves and keep me on my toes.
“It extends beyond that. The Oxford Community is so welcoming, is so kind, and I think one of my first mentors was Dr. Reagh. I think if anyone lives beyond Oxford, they would say, ‘the other vet in town was your mentor?’ And I would say, everyone in Oxford would understand, because in Oxford, when you’re successful in your heart, and you’re successful in your soul, you don’t see competitors.”
Shademakers Nursery & Landscape was the second business recognized. According to organizers, Shademakers contributes greatly to the Oxford Wine Festival. They provide the main decoration for the festival — they bring life to it. Shademakers was recognized for their quality. “Customers rave about the products and services they receive,” nominators pointed out.
Chamber President Kelli Riggs has officially completed her first full year in the position. She said, “I’ve learned a lot along the way, but I will tell you, without having such a good board and such a good community, I couldn’t have done it without all of you. Thank you, so much.”
She added that over the year, “we have actually grown as a chamber. From 2016 to date, we’ve gotten 33 new members in the last year. Almost 260 members for the chamber.”
The chamber is always hoping to better itself and improve. Riggs recognized that the Business After Hours program had been an expense to chamber members. They were providing all of the food and drinks, so as of January, the Chamber has taken away the fee. The events will be free, just like the regular Network with the Chamber events.
As for the networking events, the Chamber hopes to include more learning experiences going forward. They want to add in more opportunities to learn about businesses.
Riggs added, the winners of Businesses of the Year will not just be honored during the award ceremony, but rather they will be honored all year with the Spotlight Billboard on Ohio 27.
She added, “We’re looking for new ways to give back to you all, because you give so much to us.”
It was last summer that Miami University got its 22nd President in Crawford. Since then, President and Dr. Crawford have become much-loved members of the Oxford community.
President Crawford had Dr. Crawford speak first, noting, being married for 27 years he “knows the drill.”
She started by thanking the community for the warm welcome, both at the event and over the last several months. She added, “Being academics, we have lived in several different places, but by far this was the first move, the easiest place to call home so very quickly. People keep asking, ‘have you settled in?’ And I’m like, that happened the first two to three weeks.”
Dr. Crawford has the official title of “University Ambassador.” She has been a physics faculty member for roughly 20 years. She dedicates a lot of time to her office hours, enjoying the opportunity that presents to get to know the Miami University community.
She likes to focus on “three platform areas,” the first being “fitness.” Within this platform, she partners with the Coalition for a Healthy Oxford. She also works with Miami Health and Wellness.
•The next platform is Student Success. She is especially passionate abut the success of students who do not fit the typical Miami Student experience, specifically, those who come from a low socioeconomic background.
•As a female physicist, her last platform is recruiting underrepresented students into STEM.
She is also involved in the Town and Gown initiative, which is trying to connect the university to the town around it.
President Crawford shared, he had always been interested in Miami University. He grew up in Northeastern Ohio and Dr. Crawford’s sister actually went to school at Miami and met her husband in there, becoming a “Miami Merger.”
He added, “We really value liberal arts in a big way. Although we are both physicists, we value what the liberal arts offer students and how it trains them to be leaders, and critical thinking, and their character and virtue being transformed into thinkers of the future. That’s what we need today.”
Coming to Miami University, he was excited to see how undergraduates are engaged in a laboratory setting. Instead of waiting until graduate school, the university aims to grow these skills before others.
President Crawford said he wants to “work on partnerships.” Focusing “internally,” he wants to see departments of the university partner together and “merge disciplines.”
“Externally,” he wants to look into partnering with organizations and businesses which have alumni employees and strengthen the university in that way. Another hot topic for President Crawford is diversity.
Also during the evening, Connie Clements and Kim Logsdon were crowned “Chamber Champions.” The program is meant to thank and encourage involvement and volunteerism.
Clements taught middle school for 30 years before retiring. She has worked the Wine Festivals most years since moving to Oxford. Specifically, last year she helped plan the event. Over the years, she has spent endless hours volunteering at McCullough-Hyde/TriHealth. She is a board member with Oxford Women’s Healthcare.
Logsdon is the Associate Director of Communications and Public Relations at Miami University’s Gerontology Department. The chamber has depended on her over the last year for her help with public relations. Last spring, she collaborated with students to complete a usability audit for the chamber website. She helped also to create the newly formed Wine Festival website.
Retiring board members David Bunker and Melissa Engelhard were also recognized.
Bunker is the regional manager of Oxford’s Walgreen’s. He filled an “unexpired term” for the chamber board and helped with the Wine Festival.
Engelhard is the owner of Oxford’s LaRosa’s Pizzeria. LaRosa’s is extremely active in the Oxford community, always willing to donate and cater events when needed. Engelhard served on the Chamber Board for the last four years.
Eaton native, comedian Sid Davis was the entertainment for the night. Davis is the youngest of four children. He got his degree at Ohio University’s School of Communication, where he was mentored by a professor. When he graduated, he went to work as a sales person and a copywriter at a radio station. He loved the writing aspect of his job, but hated sales.
After jumping jobs, Davis went to Aviation and Tech school. Eventually, he became a licensed airline mechanic. After 9/11, Davis was forced into early retirement and used the time to go into comedy.
The evening opened with a Taste of Oxford hors d’oeuvres. Food from Buffalo Wild Wings, Cru Gastro Lounge, El Burrito Loco, Kona Bistro, La Rosa’s, MOON CO-OP, and Paesano’s Pasta House was featured and enjoyed by attendees.
The ceremony was sponsored by Bella Rose, Jean Vance, McCullough-Hyde/TriHealth, Miami University Conference & Event Services, Oxford Copy Shop, Oxford Spirits, and The Register-Herald.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH