HUDSON -- Chamber of Commerce members gathered Thursday, Jan. 23, to celebrate the past year and honor the work of members during the annual meeting and awards banquet.

In addition to the five annual awards the Chamber of Commerce has given in the past, a new award was presented this year.

The Green Leaf Award recognizes groups for their conservation practices. The city of Hudson and Tropical Wings won the inaugural awards.

The 2020 Community Volunteer of the Year award went to the Hudson Tour of Homes group that organizes and coordinates the fundraiser.

“They tour and select a variety of homes and convince homeowners that it really is fun to have over 1,800 people walk through your home over three days,” presenter Amy Bast said.

The 2020 Chamber Member of the Year was John Knutson for his involvement in various chamber programs including Manufacturer’s Roundtable, Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival, ambassador committee and more.

“He’ll say yes to everything,” presenter Mark McNamee said.

The 2020 Small Business of the Year -- for entities with 20 or fewer employees -- went to Studio EA.

“The work we do here in Hudson is probably the most remarkable and significant work we do because it’s in our community,” partner Brian Hinz, thanking his staff and clients.

The 2020 Large Business of the Year was awarded to VC Valley Companies. President and CEO Todd Gilbert said it’s been amazing to continue what his grandfather started 85 years ago.

“We’re really grateful to be able to do what we’re able to do for the community,” he said. “The relationships we have, the friends, the family, the coworkers, the team.”

The final award of the night, the Marie Blakeman Award, honors a community member who, like its namesake did, lives a life in service.

Evy Nerbonne received the award for her history of service to Hudson, including founding the Hudson Hot Air Affair as well as her work with Relay for Life, Hometown Music Festival and the Cookie Walk.

“I have so enjoyed working in Hudson, I appreciate the friendship and the camaraderie and the business associates who have become friends over the years,” Nerbonne said. “And I truly, truly appreciate this.”

The chamber also celebrated its 2019 successes, which include 54 new members and an 89% retention rate.