"Our theme for the evening is 'here comes the sun,'" said Gary Leftwich, who was inducted as the chamber's chairman for 2013. "And we've been through it, we really have. We've been through one of the worst economic times our country's ever seen. And we're still on shaky ground, but we're getting more solid every day."
Leftwich said it was important to "stay focused and not listen to any of the naysayers" in the coming year to be successful.
"The sun is coming up, and as the song says, it's all right," Leftwich said.
The event, held at the University of West Georgia Campus Center Ballroom, featured a highly regarded Beatles tribute band from Atlanta — The Return — as well as a live auction of several high-profile items like an original work by local artist Steve Penley.
More than 300 people were in attendance, from all fields of business, education and government in the county.
Attendees enjoyed a dinner with Beatles-themed items like Penny Lane Pasta (penne pasta) and Strawberry Fields Forever (green salad with strawberries).
Besides the fun, the chamber did get down to business as it presented awards to Sheriff Terry Langley as Carroll County Citizen of the Year, W. Thomas Green of Greenway Medical as 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, and Gary Hewitt as the Horizon Award, given to the most outstanding chamber volunteer for the year.
"To serve you is a great honor," Langley said. "I couldn't do this by myself. It's the love and support and hard work of a lot of dedicated people that is the reason for my success."
The sheriff said he was "deeply honored and humbled" with the Citizen of the Year award.
UWG President Dr. Beheruz Sethna, who will retire this summer, was awarded the Thomas S. Upchurch Workforce Education Award in its second year of being given.
"It's been a labor of love serving you for 19 years," Sethna said. "Everything we've done has been shared accomplishments with the men and women who make this university what it is."
The crowd also heard from chamber President and CEO Daniel Jackson, who detailed where the chamber's been in the past year and where it's headed in 2013.
"There's a quote that I love that says 'Everybody likes progress but nobody wants to change,'" Jackson said. "We have been willing to change here in this community in the past year, and I think we've been successful because of it.'
Jackson highlighted the seven projects the chamber and Carroll Tomorrow brought in the past year, including a $57 million investment and 974 jobs in total. Several industry expansions, retail and restaurant ventures, and a 120-job expansion to Decostar were among the many positive projects Jackson listed.
As for 2013, Jackson said the "crystal ball" told him there was a continued need for leadership development and expanded work force training opportunities. Also down the pipeline are new project announcements and more international activity — industrial prospects and opportunities for international trade.
"The theme for 2013 is 'here comes the sun,'" Jackson said. "And the formula for success for this year is to be smart, intentional, strategic, resourceful, committed, proactive and highly motivated to pursue and achieve our goals."
Before passing the gavel to Leftwich, Leonard Woolsey spoke about his year as chairman of the board.
"My favorite thing I've gotten to do this year is to meet with the businesses in our community large and small," Woolsey said. "I've gotten to listen to the trials and tribulations they face everyday and find out why we're special here and why we're growing."
The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce represents more than 600 businesses throughout the county and is actively involved in fostering and developing economic activity for the business community.
For more about membership or how to get involved in the chamber, call 770-832-2446 or go online to www.carroll-ga.org.