2021 chamber awards banquet
New London recognizes its community leaders
By John Faucher
After a year of closures and moratoriums on in-person events due to COVID-19, the New London Area Chamber of Commerce presented its first major in-person event with the 2021 Community Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 8.
The annual event celebrates and recognizes businesses, organizations and individuals in the New London area who have made a difference in their community.
Each year community members and businesses nominate candidates for nine different award categories. A full list of past and present nominees can be found on the New London Area Chamber of Commerce website at newlondonchamber.com.
2021 event highlights
Great enthusiasm surrounded this year’s red carpet event as it was for many the first time in over a year they could dust off their dress shoes and gather in a large gala style reunion.
Welcome messages, blessings and acceptance speeches were filled with optimism, emotion and rekindled feelings of unity.
At one point during the ceremony the crowd burst into a thundering applause as Business of the Year award recipient Mike Coppersmith singled out Chamber of Commerce Executive Director April Kopitzke and said, “April, thank you for not cancelling this year’s event.”
The 2021 Awards Banquet was also New London Mayor Mark Herter’s first awards banquet since taking office in April 2020.
Herter broke from the tradition of previous years and presented a total of five Community Enhancement Awards this year instead of one.
“There were so many individuals and groups who went above and beyond this past year through the pandemic. I felt they were all deserving of recognition,” Herter said following the presentations.
He presented the first 2021 Mayor’s Community Enhancement Award to Deputy Clerk Liz Knaack for her willingness to step into the clerk’s role and fill a temporary staffing gap at city hall.
He also presented an Enhancement Award to Scott DuFrane of Tuffy Boats for his dedication to growth and expansion of his business in New London during the pandemic.
Herter honored longtime alderman and City Council President Dave Morack for his years of service and dedication to the citizens and businesses of New London.
Morack will retire from his council post on Tuesday, April 13.
Herter also awarded teen entrepreneur Alana Wolf, proprietor of Cozy n’ Sweet Pop-Up Candy Shoppe LLC, with a Community Enhancement Award.
Wolf, a New London High School student, later received the Chamber’s New Business of the Year Award for her efforts and success in starting up her business in the fall of 2020, despite the difficulties of the past year.
In his final Community Enhancement Award, Herter recognized Executive Director April Kopitzke and staff at the New London Area Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing efforts assisting businesses, organizations and community members throughout the pandemic.