Chamber honors Griffin, Self at awards banquet

Boundary Bay recognized as Small Business of the Year

The Bellingham Business Journal

The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry held its fifth annual awards banquet at the Best Western Lakeway Inn & Conference Center on Dec. 9. The banquet was attended by 300 dignitaries from across Whatcom County, and featured a silent auction with proceeds going to local charities and the Whatcom Chamber Foundation.

Ken Oplinger, president/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said the event was an “outstanding evening.”

“Over 300 people enjoyed a great meal and outstanding auction benefiting Marianne’s House, Womencare Shelter and the Whatcom Chamber Foundation,” Oplinger said. “We were very pleased to honor two great local businesses, Boundary Bay Brewery and the Bellingham Wal-Mart, as well as two long-time contributors to our community, Phyllis Self and Brian Griffin.”

Brian Griffin, insurance broker at Griffin Insurance for more than 30 years and founding member of Unity Insurance, was honored as the chamber’s Man of the Year.

Griffin led efforts to build the downtown parking garage, plant street trees, and install crosswalk bollards. He led the planning and development effort for the Fairhaven Village Green, raising close to $500,000 for its development and for the crafting of the Dirty Dan sculpture. More recently, his efforts to help develop Bellingham Depot Market have paid off tremendously, providing the Bellingham Farmers Market and the community with a unique public space that is quickly becoming a community icon.

Phyllis Self, board member of the Whatcom Literacy Council, Planned Parenthood, the YWCA, the St. Joseph’s Community Council, and many more organizations, was honored as the chamber’s Woman of the Year.

Most notably, Self has served for 10 years on the Whatcom Community College Board of Trustees, and continues as a member of the foundation board, where she currently chairs its development committee. She has also been a visible patron of the arts. She co-chaired the task force to raise money to restore the Mount Baker Theatre and served on its board. She also co-chaired the Bellingham 2000 arts celebration, the Bellingham Arts Commission and the Campaign for the Arts.

The Large Business of the Year award went to Wal-Mart. The Small Business of the Year award went to Boundary Bay Brewery.

Amy Jones, public relations manager for Boundary Bay, said they were honored to receive the award.

“The success of our business has always been deeply rooted in and connected to this community that we are lucky enough to be a part of,” Jones said. “We believe that an important part of our work at the brewery is to build strong ties with the customers and the community at large, making the Bellingham community a stronger one because of it.  To be honored by that community with this award means a great deal to us.”

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