Our time to shine: Chamber Banquet celebrates city's success

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite

The Ardmore business community gathered Thursday evening at the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet to highlight the achievements and successes made in 2020, a year most hope to be the most turbulent in our lifetimes. Special recognition awards were also given to the specific individuals who helped make success possible and best embody community spirit, recognizing Macie Jones, James and Kim Thompson, and Bridge Cox.

Prior to the awards, Mita Bates, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ardmore Development Authority, reflected on her time with the organization as she will be retiring at the end of the year.

"Words cannot express the support I've received over the last 18 years, and when I look out across this room I see people whom I have been blessed to work with throughout that time," she said. "When you commit to something and you have the strong backing of great partners, it's amazing what you can do. I feel like the time has come when I can walk away and say you're in a good place, you're set for success. Theres only one way things can keep going, and it's all good."

The first award of the evening went to Macie Jones who received the FUEL Ardmore Rising Star Award. Formerly known as the Ardmore Young Professionals Rising Star award, this recognition goes to a FUEL member who best represents the next generation of community leaders. 

Though Jones was unable to attend due to a family emergency, last year's winner, Sarah Johnson, gave a description of Jones' character.

"In every organization some members need to be encouraged and coaxed to take over leadership positions," Jones said. When Fuel Ardmore's social chair needed to be filled she jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. Her passion, energy, creativity and diligent planning skills have allowed FUEL to survive 2020 and its aftermath. We're all blessed for it."

The BancFirst Small Business Award went to husband and wife team Kim and James Thompson, owners of a network of seven US Cellular locations, a property management company with 75 properties, In Touch Plaza, and most recently Thompson Square.

Sally Cumpton, senior vice president of operations at BancFirst described the transformation that has taken place at Thompson Square since they purchased it in 2019.

"Now the home to 27 thriving businesses with more to come, Thompson square is without a doubt an esthetic masterpiece and an entrance to our beautiful downtown Ardmore which we're all so proud of," Cumpton said. " Though this project is not yet complete, we're in awe of what has been accomplished to date. Everything from the beautiful landscaping, modern facade and updated interior designs makes the complex a state of the art commercial property."

Mr. Thompson said their success could not have been possible without the support of the community.

"Partnerships have been so important to us," he said. "Working with the chamber, the ADA, the Ardmore Tourism Authority, the Ardmore Beautification Council and the City of Ardmore have been instrumental in making our business successful. Our hearts go out to you guys and all you've done for us."

Mrs Thompson said they were very grateful to receive such an award.

"We love Ardmore," she said. "We went to high school here, and it means everything to us. The community is our family, and we so surprised (to receive this award). We're so blessed and very honored."

The final award of the evening was the OG&E Bob and Mollyann Cypert award which went to Citizens Bank President and CEO Bridge Cox. The award is based on the following criteria: an individual who has a positive attitude, works behind the scenes to enhance the community, and works for the good of community rather than personal gain. The winner must also participate in civic and community work and have a vision and commitment for the betterment of the community.

The award was presented by Jenny Cypert-Gibson who outlined some of Cox's community involvement. He has served on the Arbuckle Council of Boy Scouts board of directors, the American Bankers Association board, the Oklahoma Bankers Association board, the United Way of South Central Oklahoma Board of Directors as chair, the Greater Oklahoma Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, the Mercy Memorial Hospital and Mercy Foundation Board of Directors, the Sunshine Board of Directors, and many other state and local boards.

Cox said he was surprised and honored to receive the recognition.

"I'm very surprised, but it's a good surprise and truly an honor," he said. "Tonight we're honoring the community and I want to particularly thank the Chamber of Commerce for all they do for this community. I also need to thank the employees and officers ant Citizen's Bank and Trust. Without them this would not be possible." 

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mita Bates speaks at the annual chamber banquet on Thursday, August 4. Bates, who will be retiring at the end of the year, thanked all individuals, boards and businesses that have helped make her tenure a success.