Lugar big winner at Indiana Chamber awards night

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Former Sen. Richard Lugar won the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Government Leader of the Year award Tuesday night, even though the Republican was ousted from office in 2012.

Lugar – who lost in last year’s GOP primary to Richard Mourdock, who then lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly – served in the Senate for 36 years. He also served two terms as Indianapolis mayor and won the chamber’s inaugural government leader award in 1990.

“Few government leaders have made as wide and positive an impact as Richard Lugar has for his home state and nation,” said Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “In fact, ‘Government Leader of a Lifetime’ might well be a more appropriate designation.”

Steve Ferguson, chairman of Cook Group, and the city of Bedford also received awards at the chamber’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner. Retired four-star Gen. Stan McChrystal, who most recently served as the chief commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was the featured speaker at the event, which included a tribute to Hoosier companies that work closely with the military and veterans.

Lugar, 81, a recipient of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, has been lauded for his bipartisanship and work to dismantle weapons of mass destruction. Since his election defeat, Lugar has become president of the Lugar Center in Washington D.C. and remains active in energy and national security issues.

Energy “is still politically charged; the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline seems to go on and on and on,” Lugar said in a prepared statement. “Many people take the point of view that climate change requires that all fossil fuels be curtailed. I’m optimistic – balance of payments are down, production in the United States is up and our foreign policy has changed because of much less dependence upon the Middle East and other areas that are hostile to us.”

Regarding money matters, he has confidence Americans can find solutions to the many challenges.

Lugar has also expanded his relationship with the University of Indianapolis to form the Lugar Academy, which provides students with government-related learning experiences in Indianapolis and in Washington. Lugar also teaches university students in Indiana and at Georgetown University.

Ferguson was named the Business Leader of the Year for his work with Cook Group.

“Steve Ferguson is a class act and has a thoughtful and calming way about him,” Brinegar said. “He is a perpetual optimist and has a good way of getting people to focus on the right things, the task at hand and getting it done.”

Bedford is the chamber’s Community of the Year.

“A community that adapts to changing industries and citizen needs is one that will succeed,” said Brinegar. “To see Bedford thrive and capitalize on partnerships at all levels to support its businesses and residents is heartening. The community sets a wonderful example.”

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