MURRAY — For the second time since 2012, the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce knows it is a finalist for a prestigious national honor. 

Tuesday afternoon, the chamber’s office broke into celebration after learning that it had been selected as one of the three finalists for the National Chamber of the Year award in its division by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Murray-Calloway County officials are hoping for the same result as ’12, when the chamber not only was named a finalist but went on to win the title. 

“I jumped up and down. Our staff all started jumping up and down. It’s just incredible,” said Murray-Calloway President and CEO Michelle Bundren. When she was named president a little over a year ago, Bundren was already saying the chamber would be making a run at this honor again. 

“I wanted to wait, though, until I had about a year under my belt because applying for this requires a lot of time and effort,” she said. “So it’s only been, really, since the beginning of the year that the application process started for us.”

Two of the three steps in that process have been completed. The final step will be taken soon in Long Beach, California when Bundren and Murray-Calloway Chamber Board of Directors Chair LaCosta Hays participate in an interview session that will account for two-thirds of the final score toward determining the winner. 

“This is a huge honor for our community, just to be nominated. Obviously, though, we want to win it,” Bundren said, expressing confidence in the fact that the Murray-Calloway chamber has won this before. “In fact, one of the other two finalists was a finalist also in 2017, so that tells you that having success in this before does help.”

Bundren also said Murray-Calloway is one of four chambers from Kentucky to be finalists for national awards this year. She added that if the Murray-Calloway chamber does repeat its success from 2013, the timing could not be much better. The notifications of the winners, including the Chamber of the Year, will be made about a week before the Murray-Calloway chamber hosts its annual Business Celebration (formerly known as the Chamber Dinner). 

“That would be the most amazing thing,” Bundren said. “In just being nominated, especially this year, we’ve really done something I think.(Wednesday) I was told that the number of applicants had increased by 20 percent this year, so that tells you that a lot of places around the country think a lot of their communities and are wanting to promote them as much as possible.” 

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