Manhattan Chamber of Commerce holds 96th annual meeting


The 96th annual Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Banquet was held Friday night.

The event this year was held in a hybrid model due to the pandemic restrictions.

Larie Schoap, 2020 Chamber Chair, reflected on the past year and the pandemic, saying that the community really stepped up. She says everyone took on the task she set forth last February of looking at “What’s in it for ME.” The ME being the Manhattan Economy.

“By supporting our local businesses, not only by shopping with them, but also the decision was to wear a mask or to keep social distance in order to help everyone survive,” Schoap says. “And now getting the vaccine shot to show that our community is moving in the right direction by knowing that public health creates economic health.”

During the meeting Schoap also passed the baton to the 2021 Chairmen of the Board, Mark Bachamp. Bachamp says he is excited for the future of Manhattan, but says it is going to take time and planning.

“We really need to attract more companies to Manhattan to create more jobs to keep the graduates here, in Manhattan, and to increase our enrollments at K-State, MATC, Manhattan Christian College, and to keep Fort Riley strong in our communities,” Bachamp says. “Let’s leave Manhattan and this region better than we found it for our next generation.”

Another highlight of the night, and a major draw of the annual meeting was the awarding of Lud Fiser Citizen of the Year award, C. Clyde Jones Volunteer of the Year award, and new this year, the Young Professional of the Year award.

Neil Horton, of Bayer Construction in Manhattan, was honored as the 2020 Lud Fiser Citizen of the Year.

Horton was recognized for a number initiatives over the past year including service on the Business Advocacy Committee, GMEP Advisory Board, and Economic Development Committee. Horton also served as the chair of the Advance MHK initiative that helped secure the necessary support to pass the City of Manhattan economic development sales tax in November. Horton says staying involved in the community is important.

“Community involvement, it’s not hard in Manhattan because it’s a great place,” Horton adds. “You want to get involved, there are so many opportunities with organizations trying to do the right thing in Manhattan. It doesn’t really matter what your interests are, there is somebody out there who is working to serve that interest, so the opportunities to get involved in those things are numerous. Everyone should find a spot that they can make a difference.”

Horton, himself, continues to stay active in the MHK community. He serves on the board for the Good Shepard Homecare & Hospice and is a past chair of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation. He is also past Chair of the board for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce as well as serves on the Business Advocacy Committee and the GMEP Advisory Board.  Horton has also served on the boards of the Manhattan Boys & Girls Club, Meadowlark Hills Foundation. He also volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America Konza District.

The Chamber’s C.Clyde Jones 2020 Volunteer of the Year award was given to Lucy Williams.

Williams has been in banking for 24 years in Manhattan and also received her financial planner designation certification in 1988. Just as Horton, Williams, has served on several boards and organizations in Manhattan. She is the past president of the Konza Rotary Club, past Chamber Chair of the Board, past Chair for Audit, Leadership Manhattan, Business Advocacy, as well as several others. Larie Schoap, 2020 Chamber Chair of the Board, says one quote from John Quincy Adams describes Williams perfectly.

“If your action inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader,” Schoap says. “And I personally believe that all great leaders are great volunteers.”

Finally, Jeff Sackrider, of WTC, was recognized as the first recipient of the Young Professional of the Year Award.

Sackrider has been an engaged member of the Greater Manhattan Community for over 20 years through his work with WTC, as well as extensive community service and leadership. In his role as Customer Sales Consultant in WTC’s Manhattan office he actively purses new sales opportunities, assists current clients, and represents WTC at Manhattan Chamber and other community events. In WTC’s short time in the Manhattan market, Jeff has been part of a team effort resulting in more than 800 new business clients to their newly constructed fiber optic network.

Sackrider also serves on the Manhattan Emergency Shelter board, Friends of the Beach board, the Manhattan Arts Center board, the GMCF Young Trustees, and the Manhattan Rotary Club. He says one of his biggest thanks goes to his parents.

“The things I’ve being acknowledged for here today are things that I just saw them do all of my life growing up, and that’s just being actively engaged in the community,” Sackrider says. “So, these things that you’ve read about me, I’m just doing what I’ve been taught.”

With a personal passion for the visual arts, Jeff also co-founded the local public art group, Incite MHK. Since its inception in 2019 they have raised funds from private donors and sought local grants to facilitate the installation of several murals in town, with many more planned for the future.

The Chamber’s Young Professional of the Year award honors an outstanding young professional for the variety of professional and philanthropic roles they serve that make a difference throughout our community.



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