In what has become an annual tradition, the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce held its Small Business Awards Breakfast last week at Michael's Function Hall to honor local businesses deemed successful during the Great Recession.
"Believe it or not, there is reason for optimism," said Jim Jajuga, president and CEO of the Chamber in his opening remarks. "The economy is getting better."
The biggest winner of the morning ceremony was Team Haverhill, led by Chairwoman Alice Mann and Vice Chairman Eric Karlstad. The community outreach and volunteer organization was named Business of the Year by its peers for 2010.
"(This is) an individual group dedicated to making Haverhill a better place to live, work and play," Jajuga said as he introduced Karlstad. "I'm all excited about this ... mostly because I've never seen Eric Karlstad in a suit!"
Karlstad said that the award showcases how Team Haverhill operates as a business, calling it efficient and decisive.
"It's everything coming together, to get to being part of a renaissance," he said. "Emphasizing the positives going on in the community."
Team Haverhill, which over the course of 2010 partnered with the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Whittier Vo-Tech, Haverhill High School, Girls, Inc., the Discovery Club and more, brought to downtown the area's first River Ruckus, a daylong celebration of the city's arts and culture.
"What a wonderful, smashing success," Jajuga said about the Ruckus.
Team Haverhill, at the culmination of a three year study, also brought single-stream recycling to Haverhill, ending years of confusion and waste in an effort to not only be more environmentally friendly, but to also save trash and recycling pick up costs.
"Nobody realizes how much effort went into that," Jajuga said." "They are wonderful people, and we're proud to be partnered with them."