A Miami executive handed over the gavel Thursday as the Miami Area Chamber of Commerce marked the end of a historic year.

Chamber president Jennifer Hessee noted a year of accomplishment and struggle, including a record-breaking flood that challenged Miami's business community in July.

Hessee's comments followed a moment of silence during which a host of chamber members bowed their heads to contemplate the “Flood of 2007.”

“We have so many great accomplishments to brag about,” Hessee said. “But, despite our positive steps forward, we know that many of our businesses and friends have struggled this year due to the flood. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to them.”

Before passing the gavel to incoming president Chris Floyd, Hessee recapped the accomplishments of her leadership year, including the addition of 40 new chamber members, a successful communications initiative and expansion of the chamber's “Monday Memo,” Web site and newsletter.

“While we have made great strides forward, there is still more we can do to make Miami a a great place to live, work and play,” Hessee said. “We believe that, united as businesses and professional individuals, we can do just that.”

Floyd continued Hessee's sentiments of unity and expressed his excitement to take the helm of the chamber leadership.

“We are living in a moment rich with promise,” Floyd said. “This community has seen times when it seemed the fog was thick, but you waited for the mist to lift so you could see the right path.”

In accepting his new role, Floyd quoted the words of Milton Berle: “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.”

“I say we are a community that has opportunity and we are also building doors,” Floyd said.

Floyd said it is the obligation of chamber and community members to “meld ourselves together for the future of this community we call home.”

Thursday's annual chamber banquet also included recognition of several members, including the presentation of awards to the “New Business of the Year,” “Business of the Year,” “Industry of the Year,” “Outstanding Youth,” “Excellence in Education” and “Ambassador of the year.”

Outgoing chamber board members were also recognized, as were new members of the board of directors.

Leaving the board this year are Shane Cowger of Arvest Bank, Hessee of Integris Baptist Regional Health Center, Jane Osborn of J-M Farms and Brad Satterwhite of Walgreens.

New board members include Marc Crow of Turnpike Chrysler, Debbie Pollard of Arvest Bank, Greg Smith of Sonic-Larco and Dennis Thomas of Umicore.

Look to Sunday's edition for more on this year's banquet events.