Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce officials celebrated the organization's 25th anniversary in a style and manner that paid tribute to its founding more than a quarter century ago.
To learn much of that history, Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Taylor said she pored over scrapbooks and newspaper clippings from the early 1970s onward.
"I thoroughly enjoyed scouring through old newspaper articles," said Taylor, adding to a reporter that many of the articles had been carefully cut out of newspapers and saved in storage.
"The Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1993," Taylor said. "For a time, we were known as the Northwest DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce of Horn Lake and in 1997 took the name of the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce."
One name kept popping up - that of founding Horn Lake Chamber member John Woods.
Woods was among those present on Aug. 5, 1993 for the first official meeting of the newly-constituted Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce. Originally chartered in the early 1970s, the Southaven-Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce was an early forerunner of the present-day Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce.
"We felt like we had gotten to the point where we needed our own identity," Woods said. "It had grown to that point. I've been a member of the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce since day one and I've seen some things."
Woods said "back in the day," an individual had to be a member of the Southaven Chamber of Commerce to become a member of the Horn Lake group.
"As of September of 1993, Horn Lake had its first meeting at Catfish Corner, which is now Iron Horse Grill," Woods said. "It wasn't easy for us. We were on shaky ground. Clouds on the horizon were ominous. A few times we thought that we might have to close the doors because we didn't have the finances or the leadership we thought that we needed."
Personally speaking, Woods said the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce gave his many businesses over the years - eight total - "validity in everything that we did. It was a networking opportunity. We made relationships that last to this day."
Woods said few people would have given the Horn Lake Chamber even odds that the organization would still be standing 25 years later. "None of the members thought we would have survived more than a year," Woods said.
"Today, we have strong finances with money in the bank," added Woods. "We have a wonderful Chamber. I hope I can come back to the Horn Lake's 50th anniversary and speak."
Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce officials awarded businesses and individuals during the 25th anniversary celebration, held at First Choice Catering in Horn Lake.
Named Man of the Year was John Woods of First Choice Catering. Woods was among the first to form a Chamber of Commerce in Horn Lake 25 years ago.
Woman of the Year is Emily Neal, who works with ID Theft Solutions of America. Chamber Champion of the Year is Chad Engelke, BIM Shirt and Vinyl was named Business of the Move and the M.R. Dye Library of Horn Lake was selected as the Business of the Year.
Horn Lake Deputy Police Chief Scott Brown was honored as the recipient of the Winn & Annie Ruth Brown Spirit Award