According to its president and CEO, Gary Molberg, 2018 has been the best year ever for the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s been unbelievable,” he said Thursday night.

The chamber held its annual banquet and Business Excellence Awards in the Heritage Room at the Amarillo Civic Center with more than 300 people attending.

Molberg said for the first time in about 25 years, the chamber held a membership drive and added 520 new members.

The chamber now has around 2,300 members, making it larger than the Dallas, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi chambers, said outgoing chairman William Ware.

Ware is president of Amarillo National Bank and was chosen as a Top 20 Under 40 in the Business Excellence Awards.

In his opening remarks, Ware joked that the event in the Heritage Room was not the Amarillo Globe-News' Best of Amarillo event, which was being held across the street at Embassy Suites.

“This has been a fun, productive and exciting year,” he said. “The most fun of belonging to the chamber is going to the events.”

Ware said the chamber held 26 events in the past year, including the annual Chamber Open Golf Tournament.

“The bank was empty the day of the event,” he said.

Other events were the Business Connection, which drew approximately 5,000 attendees and 400 exhibitor booths to the Civic Center Complex; the Good Times Celebration Barbecue Cook-off, which covered four blocks in the downtown with over 100 cooking teams; and numerous ribbon cuttings and Chamber After Hours.

Ware introduced incoming chairwoman Michelle Reichert, who serves as the chief operating officer for Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, the management and operating contractor for the Pantex Plant.

Asked what are the advantages of belonging to the chamber, Molberg said, “Just what we are doing here tonight. Networking and getting to know people.”