PITTSBURG — Pittsburg area business community members gathered Thursday at Memorial Auditorium for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.

The Chamber took this time to recognize outstanding businesses and individuals.

Eight awards were presented at the event to companies, volunteers and educators. Three of the awards were presented by the Business Education Alliance. BEA works to provide students with business and career experience like hands-on job shadowing and mock interviews.

NPC International was awarded BEA Bill Coleman Business Partner of the Year. Leah Mackey of The Joplin Globe received BEA Jerry Lindberg Volunteer of the Year. Frontenac teacher and creator of Raider Ink Eric Gudde was given two awards, BEA Koeta Bryant Education Partner of the Year and Educator of the Year.

Along with Educator of the Year, the Chamber handed out four other awards. Pam Henderson from U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s office received Chamber Volunteer of the Year. CDL Electric Company took home City of Pittsburg Employer of the Year, and SilverCreek Medical Reimbursement Solutions was awarded Small Business of the Year.

Small Business of the Year finalists also included Pro X Realty and Roto-Rooter of Pittsburg. Pittsburg High School Music Director Susan Laushman and Linda Knoll from Pittsburg Middle School were finalists for Educator of the Year.

The evening culminated with the Spirit of Pittsburg Award, sponsored by the Morning Sun. The award was presented by Joe Hart to Pitsco Education Founder Harvey Dean.

“I feel so undeserving,” Dean said. “Because you get to where you are in life by others, not so much by yourself.”

The award is given to recognize an individual who has greatly impacted the community with their services. Pitsco Education has worked to foster spaces for hands-on style learning in the Pittsburg community.

“We love having our business here, we love the community and we love our employees,” Dean said. “We’ve been so blessed to be here.”

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.