01/27/12 — A business success. A community leader.

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A business success. A community leader.

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on January 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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Allison Carter

Ed Borden, left, speaks with Marian Mason, president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

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Allison Carter

Ed Borden, left, speaks with Marian Mason, president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

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Allison Carter

Ed Borden, third from left, is seen with family members at Thursday night's Chamber of Commer Banquet. From left: son Martin Borden, wife Mary Martin Borden, Borden, daughter-in-law Mary Mills Borden, son Lee Borden and daughter Martha Roberson.

As video messages rolled across the projector screen during the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet Thursday evening at Walnut Creek Country Club, it became apparent who was the newest recipient of the Chamber's highest award.

But even as the winner of the Cornerstone Award was revealed, Ed Borden was already getting concerned about the rest of the people in attendance.

After all, there was a Carolina-State game just starting and Borden, a UNC alumnus, did not want to deprive anyone of their chance to see the game. He said later he felt they spent too much time lauding his achievements.

"I think they got too much info," he said, smiling, before adding how touched he was at the compliments paid by several community leaders and associates.

It's that kind understanding of what others want that earned Borden the Chamber's Cornerstone award, an honor given to those who display an outstanding commitment to community service.

Still, he admitted he was humbled by the messages.

"It was wonderful to hear from so many friends from the different phases of my life," Borden, 77, said, adding he was glad to be counted among those who had previously won the award. "It's a great honor to be chosen among them."

Borden, whose family founded the former Borden Manufacturing Co., said he felt particularly honored to have received the award during Chamber President Marian Mason's first year.

Borden called Mrs. Mason's leadership over the past year a renaissance within the organization -- words she said she was glad to hear.

"The ship has been steered in a different direction," she said. "We've been looking for a good way to re-energize the Chamber, but we've still got a lot of work to do."

And while Borden said in his acceptance speech that he was surprised by the award, Mrs. Mason said the true surprise for most of those gathered at the banquet was likely the fact that he hadn't already won it.

Although he was praised for his involvement in many projects, Borden received the most credit for being instrumental in the development of the Goldsboro Family Y and the Veterans Memorial -- projects that were years apart and demonstrate his long commitment to making Wayne a better county in which to live.

He refused to take much credit for the latter project, just unveiled in November.

"The community really embraced that project," he said. "We walked shoulder to shoulder."

With that project completed, Borden said he plans to slow down a bit.

Borden said he was not sure if he deserved the award, but was positive that he at least deserved some time off.

But perhaps his wife, Mary Martin Borden, who has worked on projects with him throughout their marriage, put it best.

"I think he's probably contributed more than anyone else I know in Wayne County," she said.

The banquet also provided a backdrop to the passing of the gavel to the new chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, as Ben Seegars of Seegars Fence Co. was formally succeeded by John Richards, chief executive officer at the Goldsboro Family YMCA.

Richards said he plans to spend the coming year expanding the organization's reach into the community.

"My goal is to get out of the office and visit the businesses in the area," he said. "In the past there have been times when the only time they hear from us is when they pay their dues. We want to be proactive, find out what we need to do to help them grow their businesses."

Outgoing chamber president Ben Seegars thanked chamber members who served in a variety of capacities during his term and noted several accomplishments made during 2011: The hiring of Mrs. Mason as chamber president, the renovation of the chamber office, the hosting of the regional governors' summit by the chamber's military affairs committee and the success of the Dancing with the Wayne County Stars fundraiser that collected money to help with mini-grants and scholarships for educators. He called the renovated chamber "something we can be proud of," and said Mrs. Mason "has got us going in the right direction."

Seegars said the community partnerships the chamber has been a part of, as well as the willingness of so many to work so hard for the community, were key parts of the chamber's success in 2011 and its new vision for 2012.

He said the chamber worked last year to add value for its membership through education as well as opportunities to network. He said that priority also will continue into 2012.

Seegars might be stepping aside as the chairman of the chamber board, but he will not be too far away. He will be the Military Affairs Committee chairman this year.

"I am excited," he said, acknowledging that his new role will be a challenging one. "It will be an interesting -- and historic -- year for the base and the county."

He said he will work to continue the relationships that have been forged between the county and the base that have made Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Wayne County models for base and community partnerships around the Air Force.

The Chamber also recognized David Perry as the organization's volunteer of the year at the banquet. Perry, president of Goldsboro Builders Supply, is a member of the Chamber's board of directors and was heavily involved in the group's total resource campaign this year.