PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — On Friday the Bay County Chamber of Commerce awarded Jorge Gonzalez with the Lauren Merriam Memorial Award – the Chamber’s highest honor. Gonzalez has served on multiple boards, including the Bay Economic Development Alliance, the Florida Chamber Board of Directors and The St. Joe Community Foundation Board of Trustees. 

Besides Gonzalez’ honoring, community leaders and elected officials gathered to commemorate the Chamber’s success throughout 2020. It also honored the outgoing Chair of the Board, Andrew Rowell, and honored the 2021 Chair, Chris Moore.

“I’ve been fortunate to build relationships with all of you, our members,” Rowell said. “2020 has certainly changed our lives both personally and professionally.  It has also changed the way we have done business.  Our board, has stood by the organization and the hard decisions had to be made on events, meetings and office operations and more.”

Moore has been serving as the Chair since Jan. 1, 2021, but the Chamber was not able to celebrate his term earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Outgoing Military Affairs Committee Chair, Will Cramer was also honored at the event. Cramer spoke on the local military installations in Bay County.

“Our local military are the ones to be commended for their service for our country,” Cramer said. “Both of our military installations play a vital role not only economically, but also through their individual community involvement.”

Cramer is being replaced as the Military Affairs Committee Chair by Rowell, who will transition to the role after serving as the Chair of the Board. 

During the event, Moore unveiled his plan as the Chair of the Board for the remainder of the year. The objectives included plans to pursue a strong education system through business partnerships. He hopes for local businesses and business people to serve as mentors and tutors. The Chamber of Commerce also plans to promote Bay County to investors nationally, and monitor progress of the Panama City Federal Courthouse.

“Your Bay County Chamber has not skipped a beat in providing services to our community and our investors,” Moore said. “We will continue to carry the torch and send the message that Bay County is open for business.”