Chamber celebrated past year wins, shared future initiatives and welcomed Dr. Evans as incoming board president at annual meeting


The Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted over 200 of its members and stakeholders at its annual meeting, The Mix and Mingle, held at Bennington College this past Friday.

The meeting introduced a 2019 budget to the members which was voted upon and passed.  The meeting also provided the opportunity to introduce two new Northshire Chamber Board of Director members Sylvia Pike of Battenkill Valley Health Center and Lisa Larson of the Northshire Civic Center at Riley Rink.

Additionally, Dr. David Evans of Southern Vermont College took up the mantle of President of the Board of Directors.  Jonah Spivak, the former president for the 2017 and 2018 years respectively, will move to the Past President role and remain on the Executive Board for two more years.  Brian Maggiotto of The Inn at Manchester was introduced as the newest officer accepting the position of 1st Vice President.  Michael McKenna stayed on as 2nd Vice President and Tom Dailey stayed on as Treasurer.

The board also recognized retiring board members Mike Baker, Pat Warner, Ed Morrow, Joy Proft, Stu Hurd and Dimitri Garder.


Spivak, the outgoing president, presented his final Welcome highlighting The Shires of Vermont brand’s history, our history as a region, as well as thanking his wife and countless volunteers over his two years as president of the board.

 Matt Harrington, executive director of the chamber now entering his fourth year, presented on “Transpiration,” what he indicated was “a combination of transformation, inspiration, and perspiration.” He likened “transpiration” and the chamber’s hard work ethic to Jim Collins’ allegory of the 20-Mile March, “The 20-Mile March imposes order amid disorder, consistency amid swirling inconsistency…So when you think about Transpiration, when you think about this chamber and our members, I want you think of us, as well as yourself in business and community development, as 20-Mile Marchers – dealing with the brutal facts of our current situation while having unwavering faith we will succeed in the end.”

Harrington, in his presentation to the membership, also highlighted growth for the regional chamber as their Northshire members has grown to 25% of the total membership.  He also noted that in 2018 the chamber added 95 new members growing membership to over 440 business members throughout the region.  According the Harrington, “this is roughly a 35% increase since I arrived in 2016.”

Members enjoyed a glass of champagne as the walked into the VAPA auditorium on Bennington College campus and were greated with a feast of sweet and savory stations, Mix and Mingle Hor d’ oeuvres and a cash bar put on by the Bennington College staff.  Midway through the night, President and Executive Director took a pause and encouraged members to take twenty minutes to refill their drinks, grab a coffee, taste some desserts and to network with fellow business members, “all with the idea of the “mix and mingle” theme for tonight.”


Dr. Evans provided some insight into what his plan was for the chamber over the next two-year term under his presidency.  He plans to focus on continuing the regional effort of the chamber as he commended past president Spivak and executive director Harrington on a tremendous first two years of growth in the region. He also added economic growth as a focus for the chamber, as well as young professional retention and development. 

Harrington, along with Lindy Lynch, annual dinner chair, and sponsor John Ray and Sons brought the crowd back together after a short intermission.  The pinnacle of the night is always the awards ceremony where the Chamber identifies citizens throughout the region and their contributions to the area.

·       The D. Ed Moore Award, given to the member who best enhances the effectiveness of the Chamber and its programs, was awarded to Maru Leon Griffen of the Mount Anthony Country Club. 

·       The President’s Award, given to a community member who has been an outstanding volunteer for the Chamber, was awarded to Mark Wilson of the Lions Club.

·       The Business Community Spirit Award, given to a organization for supporting community events and presenting Bennington in the most positive light, was awarded to Tim Cahill and Hannaford Supermarkets.

·       The Mike Williams Hospitality Award, given to an individual because of their positive attitude and pleasant manner in the promotion of Bennington, was awarded to P.J. DeVito of the Vermont Welcome Center on highway 279.

·       The inaugural Shires Young Professional of the Year award in a community/nonprofit was awarded to Kayla Davis of Battenkill Valley Health Center and the award for the Young Professional of the Year in a business sector was awarded to Matt Willey of Ramuntos Pizzeria.

·       A new award to celebrate the Chamber’s regional efforts was also introduced. The inaugural Regional Visionary Award was given to Seth Bongartz of Hildene.  Spivak presented the award to Bongartz, the retiring president of Hildene, noting that “Seth was the father of the idea of The Shires of Vermont…and tonight we’re honoring a visionary who not only pushed us then and supported many in their endeavors, but mostly has always believed in the power of the people who live in this special region we all call home.”

The awards are determined by multiple factors including membership vote, past recipients, staff, annual dinner committee and the board.

The night concluded as Harrington thanked his board, committees and especially Lynch and Susan Strano, chairs of the annual meeting and his staff of Allison Cavanagh and Mikaela Lewis.

Sponsors for the night included Presenting Sponsor Family Heritage Credit Union, Award Sponsor John Ray and Sons, Cocktail Sponsor The Inn at Manchester, Hor d’ oeuvres Sponsor KW Brenda Jones Real Estate Group, and Dessert Sponsor Southern Vermont College.