More than 1,000 people gathered at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Friday night for the annual Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner. Credit: Michael Dowd

More than 1,000 people attended the annual Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner Friday night at the Cross Insurance Center, where eight awards were presented to area businesses and individuals for their contributions to the community and local economy.

Commercial real estate developer Carol Epstein was presented with the chamber’s highest honor, the Norbert X. Dowd Award, which is presented to a member of the business community whose commitment of time, resources and talent has made the Bangor region a better place in which to live. Epstein is the owner and president of Epstein Commercial Real Estate and Epstein Properties.

“Carol Epstein’s civic involvement, charitable giving and contributions to the region were among the reasons cited by those who nominated her for this award,” said Deb Neuman, president of the Bangor chamber.

“I’m thrilled,” Epstein said prior to receiving the award. “It’s wonderful to be part of this community which has so much energy and such commitment to making this a great place to live, from improving the waterfront to reviving downtown to this building.”

The Chamber presented GE Bangor with the Business of the Year Award. The GE Bangor plant opened in 1969 as a three-building manufacturing facility with 70 employees. Since then, GE Bangor, which specializes in small turbine components, has grown to employ 400 people, producing turbines that power more than 1 million homes, with customers all over the world.

The M. Jane Irving Community Service Award was presented to Norm Heitmann, who recently retired as city solicitor for the City of Bangor. The Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Service was presented to Carol Woodcock, Bangor state office representative for Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

The Bangor Public Library was recognized with the Nonprofit of the Year Award. The Arthur Comstock Professional Service Award was presented to Dr. Lee Speronis, director of the School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management at Husson University in Bangor. The Bion & Dorain Foster Entrepreneurship Award was presented to Wilcox Wellness & Fitness.

New this year is the “Arts and Culture” award, which recognizes an individual, business or organization that has made significant contributions to the arts, entertainment and cultural opportunities in the Bangor region. The recipient was “The Nite Show with Danny Cashman.”

“We are delighted to create this new award category to shine a spotlight on those who are using their creative talents to provide the rest of us with arts, entertainment and cultural experiences that further enhance our quality of life and the economic growth of our region,” Neuman said.

For more information, visit bangorregion.com.