Ariz. Chamber of Commerce & Industry recognizes business community champions at annual awards event

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday held its annual awards ceremony, recognizing the elected officials and Chamber members whose contributions have helped make the state friendlier to private business. 

State Representatives of the Year: This honor went to state Rep. David Livingston (R-Peoria) and state Rep. Seth Blattman (D-Mesa). Both have been consistent supporters of the continuation of the Arizona Commerce Authority, the statewide economic development agency up for renewal this year. 

“I will tell you that the ACA will get approved this year and extended,” Livingston said in accepting the award. 

Blattman reflected on his efforts to work in a bipartisan manner and support mainstream, pro-business positions. 

“Working across the aisle for the continuation of the Commerce Authority, voting for infrastructure that supports our local community and businesses, advocating for legislation to help small businesses find success, these are positions that the people of Arizona view as reasonable,” he said. 

State Senators of the Year: The Chamber recognized state Sen. Flavio Bravo (D-Phoenix) and state Sen. Ken Bennett (R-Prescott). 

“At the Capitol, it can feel like we’re constantly putting out one fire after another, so let’s sine die soon,” Bravo said referring to the term for the formal adjournment of the legislative session. Lawmakers typically strive to complete a session within 100 days, but this year’s session has hit the 150-day mark, and the Legislature and governor still must agree on a fiscal year 2025 budget before the current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Bennett said his time as Senate president from 2003-2007 during the tenure of former Democratic governor Janet Napolitano and the two parties’ ability to pass state budgets during that period gives him confidence this Legislature can reach a deal with Gov. Katie Hobbs. 

“I’m optimistic we can do whatever we need to do to get a budget this year and however many years we need to with a Democratic governor again,” he said. “What’s right for Arizona rarely if ever falls neatly into Republican or Democrat policy. What’s right for Arizona is usually a broad cross-section and a majority of all four caucuses coming together with the executive to do what’s right.” 

Best City for Business: The Town of Queen Creek was recognized for its work to attract businesses, which has fueled tremendous growth in the Southeast Valley community. 

LG Energy Solution last year announced that it would construct a $5.5 billion battery manufacturing complex in Queen Creek, where the company will produce cylindrical batteries for electric vehicles and batteries for ESS, or energy storage systems. 

“Receiving this recognition is so satisfying and so exciting,” Queen Creek Mayor Julia Wheatley said. “As we continue to develop in Queen Creek, we’re expanding infrastructure, we’re increasing our employment options, diversifying our business base, and of course prioritizing our residents’ high quality of life. We just love to welcome so many diverse businesses and companies coming to our community.” 

Outstanding Member Ambassador: Barb Meaney, a founder of the highly respected public affairs firm Triadvocates, was recognized for her work to help grow the Chamber’s membership. 

Meaney thanked the Chamber for its advocacy efforts. 

“For those who are on the frontlines down at the Capitol for the really important economic development policy that you’re promoting and all the support you give to our clients and the many businesses that are represented in this room, thank you so much. You play such a vital role down at the Capitol,” she said. 

Doug Yonko Volunteer of the Year Award: This award, named for the late Chamber chairman and former Hensley Beverage Co. vice president and tourism industry leader, went to Jimmy Lindblom of Willmeng Construction. 

Lindblom is a vice-chairman at the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission, and he serves on the board of the Roosevelt Water Conservation District. Last month he completed a two-year term as chairman of the East Valley Partnership. 

For the Chamber, Lindblom is a vice chairman of the Political Affairs Committee. 

“I’ve always tried to surround myself with really good people, and this room is the group that I love to be around,” he said. “I just want to thank the Chamber and the staff. They’re the ones that get me going every day. I just want to support them. They’re such a capable group. They’re really the heroes.” 

Corporate Citizen of the Year: TYR Tactical, a Peoria-based manufacturer of body armor, protective vests, and more for military and police departments. The company employs more than 300. 

The company in 2022 was recognized by the Arizona Manufacturers Council as Medium-sized Manufacturer of the Year. 

“Our focus is innovate or die,” CEO Jason Beck said in pre-recorded remarks. “In our world, we are constantly innovating products so our customers can go home at the end of each day. This is how our success is measured.” 

Chamber Business News Top Newsmaker: Derrick Hall, president, CEO, and general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Under his leadership, the club has made four postseason appearances and his efforts have also established the Diamondbacks as a leading philanthropic entity, contributing over $85 million to the community. 

In pre-recorded remarks, Hall said that the team obviously strives for on-field success, but that “To be able to surpass $85 million in community giving, that’s an even greater point of pride for us.”

The Annual Awards event was held at Republic National Distributing Co. in Phoenix. APS was the event presenting sponsor.

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