The Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Annual Awards Dinner: The Manufacturing Crisis in America with keynote speaker John Ratzenberger will be held Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at the Bangor Civic Center.

To register, please visit mainechamber.org/annualmeeting. The cost is $70/individual; $500/table of eight

The 2011 Maine Investor Awards will be presented to Affiliated Healthcare Systems; Boyne Resorts; D&G Machine Products, Inc.; Fisher Engineering. The Maine Investor Awards recognize Maine businesses for outstanding contributions to the growth of their companies and the state’s economy. The chamber salutes those that invest in the development of their community and state.

Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, will present his annual President’s Recognition Award to Unum. This honor is presented to a company or individual for their demonstrated involvement in the promoting the mission and activities of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

The 2011 Alton “Chuck” Cianchette Business Hall of Fame will be presented to the family of Robert H. Reny Sr. in his memory and in recognition of his lifelong contribution to Maine’s business community. This annual award, in honor of Alton “Chuck” Cianchette, recognizes the contributions of an individual who has demonstrated public service leadership as well as business success.

The 2011 Chamber Executive of the Year will be presented to Daniel Bookham, executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. Each year this award recognizes a local chamber executive’s hard work and dedication on efforts such as economic development initiatives, successful events, and an improved bottom line, as well as demonstrated involvement in collaborative ventures in support of local/regional chambers.

The 2011 Chamber Volunteer of the Year will be presented to Floyd Rockholt of Eagle Hill Stamp & Coin in Presque Isle. This award honors an individual who is actively dedicated to the vitality of their local chamber. Selection is determined from a statement of the volunteer’s leadership qualities and accomplishments.

The Manufacturing Crisis in America with keynote speaker John Ratzenberger.

America faces a crisis of epic proportions. The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that by 2012, there will be a shortfall of nearly 3 million skilled worker positions in America. The average age of skilled workers in many trades is 54 to 56 years old, and as this veteran group retires, there are not enough trained workers to replace them. Today’s shortage sharply reduces the growth of U.S. gross domestic product — certainly not a help in the current economy.

Master improvisational actor John Ratzenberger has enjoyed success as a screenwriter, director, producer and multi Emmy-nominated actor during more than three decades of movie making and theatre. He gained international fame as the character Cliff Clavin in the NBC phenomenon Cheers for the show’s entire 11-year run. He is also an accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Since climbing off the barstool at Cheers more than a decade ago, Ratzenberger has immersed himself in what makes America great, a country in which a truck driver’s son wound up being a TV icon with an audience and influence and time to consider what’s important. He thought, he traveled, he wrote: “We’ve Got it Made in America, A Common Man’s Salute to an Uncommon Country,” a collection of essays and remembrances that come from his years on the road going visiting factory towns throughout the country for the Travel Channel show “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America”.

Ratzenberger created the show in order to bring viewers the stories of the best products made in the U.S. It honors American men and women who invent and build the goods that are the backbone of the economy. In 2004 Ratzenberger began starring in the Travel Channel hit, which was an immediate hit. It reached a milestone in television with the launch of its 5th and final season in 2008.

In 2008, Ratzenberger founded the non-profit Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation, a natural profession of his work with American manufacturers over the past 10 years. He has committed his resources to introducing America’s youth to the pleasures of ‘tinkering’ – getting away from their video games and TV sets and into the backyard building things. In that way, society will create the next generation of artisans, inventors, engineers, repairmen and skilled workers – in short, a self-sufficient, self-sustaining society.Ratzenberger ’s tag line has become “Little hands build big dreams. Give children tools and watch them build America.” Nuts and Bolts recently merged with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association of America, who works on multi-level platforms to promote American manufacturing, including grants and scholarships to nonprofits that provide day or overnight camps to children who want to learn the manual arts.

Ratzenberger is an outspoken advocate for American-made products and the companies that keep Americans working. He embarked on a yearlong commitment with the Association for American Manufacturing and US Steelworkers to create a Presidential Town Hall Tour. The Town Hall series brought attention to issues that American voters were demanding to hear about – a real commitment from presidential candidates to ensure a strong manufacturing industry. During the town hall events, he encouraged voters to ask the presidential candidates what specific policies they will enact to strengthen the American manufacturing base, which is vital to economic and national security.

Ratzenberger was invited to address Congress and its Manufacturing Caucus that same year, for which he prepared his oft-quoted speech “The Industrial Tsunami Heading Our Way.” He continues to work with politicians on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the American manufacturing industry has a voice in Washington.

Currently, he sits on the board of Center for America where he works tirelessly to educate, motivate and empower Americans to expand skills, entrepreneurship, prosperity and freedom.