The 800-pound gorilla

There are no sacred cows in the ES newsroom. Anything and everything is fair game. With one exception, a topic which is so feared, that even whispering the word is considered taboo 10 1/2 months out of the year.

Progress.

For our readers and advertisers, this annual publication is something to look forward to, as it promises unparalleled coverage of our local businesses, communities and issues. It is a chance to get a look at the inner workings of our governments, at the manufacturing floors of local industry and the many things which makes Chenango County home to all of us.

For those of us who shed our blood, sweat, tears slaving over the 10-section publication, it is nothing short of hell. By the time Progress hits newsstands in January, our staff will be reduced from the jovial crew we are today to a mere shadow of our former selves. The glow of health and hope will have abandoned us, replaced by a sallow look which can only achieved by combining sleep deprivation, malnutrition, high volumes of stress and excessive quantities of caffeine. Letís just say it wonít be pretty.



In stark contrast will be the thing of beauty which we have created, for thatís what Progress is. A masterpiece, resplendent with colorful photographs and those pithy stories I promised. It paints a much different picture of our county than many of us are used to seeing, because it highlights the dedication, commitment and drive of Chenango Countyís entrepreneurs, volunteers, officials, working men and women, small businesses, large manufacturers, non-profit organizations, downtown merchants, farmers and the like.

Which is why, despite having lived through two Progress seasons, I find myself in a positive place when it comes to the 800-pound gorilla lurking in the newsroom. Oh, Iíve had some sleepless nights, donít get me wrong. But the glimmer and magic of the holidays isnít under the same pall as in the past. Iím anxious for our Progress assignments this year, but in a different way. Iím excited, actually, to see what businesses and organizations Iíll get to delve into for the (admittedly large number of) feature articles Iíll write.

You, and my coworkers, are probably wondering what made the difference. And no, Iím not on any medications. It was actually the Salute to Small Business dinner I attended last week. Sponsored annually by Commerce Chenango, the event recognizes the entrepreneurial spirit, expertise and contributions of the small businesses which make up the backbone of our local economy.

Six businesses were recognized. Three - B&D Pool and Spa, Rapp Signs and The Silo Restaurant - were honored as 2010ís Small Business Gems. Jim Fowler of the Sherburne Big M was given the Entrepreneur of the Year nod. Chentronics was named Small Business Manufacturer of the Year. And Blueox received the prestigious Small Business of the Year award.

My favorite part of the evening - well besides the decadent chocolate toffee cheesecake Canasawactaís Sue Ryan whipped up for our enjoyment - was listening to the story of each of these local companies. It made me feel so proud to live in Chenango County, to be a part of the community these businesses and their employees call home.

Years ago, I had the privilege of working with The Siloís Gary Kurz, and have since enjoyed many a fabulous meal at the Coventry restaurant. And being an Oxford girl, I know what it means for a company to be a true community partner by watching Blueox set the example. I was thrilled to both of these businesses get the recognition they so greatly deserve.

I was less familiar with the other award recipients, but knew they were no less worthy of the honors bestowed upon them by Commerce Chenango. I loved learning more about them that night. And it is this, more than anything, which has colored my attitude about Progress this year.

I know it will be a lot of work. I know there will be times that I pray for more hours in the day, more days in the week. And more coffee. But I know, too, that it will be worth it in the end, when that colossal effort translate into a finished publication highlighting all the things which make me so proud to call Chenango County home.

Rumor has it that our Progress assignments will be given out soon, perhaps even today.

I say, bring it on.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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