The new entity, Shawnee Forward, held its inaugural banquet Thursday as a joint organization, naming its new Chief Executive Officer and presenting several 2018 award winners.

The new entity, Shawnee Forward, held its inaugural banquet Thursday as a joint organization, naming its new Chief Executive Officer and presenting several 2018 award winners.

Coming here after a decade as president of Choctaw's chamber, Tracy Qualls is to be the first official CEO over the organization. SEDF's Tim Burg and Shannon Caldwell, and the chamber's Phyllis Bolt, Kaylee Wilburn and Molly Forsythe make up the Shawnee Forward staff.

This year's Leadership Shawnee class also was honored at the event, celebrating graduation from the program. Completing participants numbered 30.

Awards

• Pierre Taron. Jr. Leadership Award — Kevin Huddleston

• Ambassador of the Year — Amanda Johnson

• Neil and Mary Wiley Volunteer of the Year — Audra Yocham

• 2018 Agri-Business of the Year — Tonya Turnpaugh

• 2018 Business Person of the Year — Billy Boy BBQ's Bailey Scott

• Manufacturer of the Year — Georg Fischer Central Plastics

• Gordon Richards, Sr. Service Award — Marty Lewis

Shawnee Forward

The collaboration was formed by merging two longtime local fixtures — Shawnee Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) and the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce.

Functioning as a conglomerate, the chamber and SEDF — at least for the time being — are basically still operating in their own established capacities. As the merge is still being worked out, it is unclear if the two will remain structurally independent or will change on some level down the line.

The Chamber board, made up of 17 members, and the 21-member SEDF board have been pared down to create an 11-member board that will head over the new group.

Watch for updates.