An Augusta businessman with more than four decades of community service at a local and state level received the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor Thursday night.
Don Grantham, CEO of Forest Sales Corp. and the District 12 representative on the State Transportation Board, was presented the Lester S. Moody Award of Excellence at the chamber’s 109th Annual Meeting in recognition of his regional economic development contributions over the years.
“What an honor this is – what a shock,” Grantham said following an introduction by longtime friend and former State Transportation Board Chairman Bill Kuhlke. “This is one of the highlights of my life.”
The Moody Award, established in 2008 during the chamber’s centennial celebration, is presented periodically to community members who embody the spirit of the man who led the chamber for 38 years and is remembered for his lobbying efforts to create and bolster some of the region’s major economic engines, including Savannah River Site, Fort Gordon and the Clarks Hill Dam and Reservoir.
Grantham, a former Augusta commissioner, has served in many official capacities and on several boards of directors over the years, starting with an appointment to the Georgia Ports Authority 45 years ago by then-governor Jimmy Carter.
Grantham was elected to a vacant term on the State Transportation Board in 2011, which was instrumental in helping the Augusta region become one of three in Georgia to pass the Transportation Investment Act, which is funding $728 million worth of road projects throughout the region, including the extension of River Watch Parkway, downtown streetscape improvements and the restoration of the Archibald W. Butt Memorial Bridge.
He thanked his family, friends and coworkers for supporting him through his endeavors as well as local voters who passed the TIA.
“I pledge myself to continue to work for you, and I will do my best to collect as many orange barrels as I can to keep you from having to slow down,” he said. “But just remember one thing when you go past those orange barrels, to slow down and make a little statement: This is progress.”
The Augusta native and Academy of Richmond County graduate has previously served on the Augusta Metro Chamber board and oversaw its economic development efforts. He has served on numerous community bank boards and was a 40-year member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Augusta advisory board.
Grantham, who earned a degree in finance from the University of Georgia, served as a trustee for the former Augusta State University.
He and his wife, Carol, have two children, daughter Zoe Grantham Gawrych and son Don Grantham, Jr. and four grandchildren.
The annual meeting also served as the chamber’s official transfer of leadership, as the gavel was passed from 2016 Chairman Russ Krueger, president of Ocozzio, to 2017 Chairman Eddie Bussey, a State Farm Insurance agent.
The events’ featured speaker, Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke on the topic of “The Business Agenda in a New Administration.”
Although the national chamber is at odds with some Trump administration policies, Engstrom said he believes there is more reason to be optimistic after what he characterized as the previous administration’s “unprecedented threat on business issues directed at our membership.”
“The electorate is angry and scared, but I think people also sense opportunity and excitement,” Engstrom said. “I think big things get done in this country during times of transition and during periods of disruption.”
The Augusta Metro Chamber also announced Thursday it will offer its eligible small business members complimentary membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through the Federation Partnership Program. The U.S Chamber, the world’s largest business federation, is 96 percent comprised of small business members.
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org