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Chamber board reviews year, plans for 2014

Pulaski County Chamber DirectorsBy Sheila D. Nelson

Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce


Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors held its final meeting of the year Tuesday, Dec. 10, reviewing the successes of 2013, while planning ahead for 2014.

Robert Hiss, 2013 chamber President and Pulaski County Assistant Administrator, reviewed some of the highlights of the year.

The most recent major Chamber event was the “Shop Local Small Business EXPO,” which was put together to encourage and promote our small businesses.  It was held inside the Volvo Plant in Dublin and was rated an overwhelming success by all participants.

Sample comments from participants were as follows:

Tina Gilbert of Agape Healing Massage said, “The EXPO was a wonderful experience! Well worth the cost considering the amount of exposure and how many potential customers I reached.”

Billy Pryse of Verizon Wireless in Dublin commented, “The EXPO was a great experience for our business. We had five customers come into our store the next day that had not previously used our services. Very refreshing and definitely worth participating.”

On Monday, Nov. 25, Pulaski County Chamber hosted the 27th Annual Southwest Virginia Legislative Breakfast in Edwards Hall at New River Community College. The territory of this coalition of Chambers of Commerce covers Pulaski County to the westward end of the Commonwealth. A total of 161 people traveled from all over Southwest Virginia to attend, and some tough questions were posed to the participating legislators.

The Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet honored New River Internal Medicine as “Small Business of the Year,” Caterpillar for “Business Excellence,” and Dr. Thomas Brewster, superintendent of Pulaski County Public Schools, as “Business Executive of the Year.” A special Heritage Award was presented to Roger Adkins of the Fiddle, Banjo and Dance Club of New River Community College in appreciation of his work toward preserving the Appalachian music and culture of our area.

Hiss also counted the 8th Grade Reality Day among the Chamber’s major successes of 2013. On Reality Day, every 8th grader in the county is exposed to a dose of financial realities by having to choose housing, utilities, transportation, child care, food, insurance, and other necessities and pleasures of adult life while living on a set salary and paying taxes.

The Chamber hosted a Breakfast with Senator Mark Warner at Draper Mercantile. A standing-room-only capacity crowd came out to discuss pertinent issues to our area with the senator.

The Chamber also was contracted by the town of Pulaski to organize and manage its farmers market. The Tuesday evening events from May through September were branded THE MARKETPLACE by the Chamber. The intention of the market was to increase sales for the participating micro businesses and bring people into the downtown area.

THE MARKETPLACE successfully promoted and brought awareness to over 18 artisans, 24 musicians, 14 vendors, three small businesses and five major corporations. Micro businesses were happy to report that they saw their profits quadruple over previous years.

Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel and Joanne Grossi, director of Region III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, also were brought in by the Chamber this year to participate in a forum about the impact Health Care Reform would have on attendees’ businesses.

The Chamber worked with the Pulaski County Public School System in the development of a Student Advisory Committee.

Other successful events included the annual Golf Tournament, monthly Business After Hours networking and business showcasing opportunities, new physician receptions, ribbon cuttings, Chamber Night at Calfee Park, and the annual Welcome Back Mariners Luncheon.

The Chamber has re-assumed leadership of the Pulaski County Corporate Roundtable; greatly increasing attendance at the meeting, providing excellent programs, publishing a monthly e-letter for the group, and scheduling industry visits.

The Pulaski County Chamber also handles tourism for Pulaski County; managing the Visitor Center, maintaining numerous tourism websites and brochure racks, and many other tourism-related activities.

This is all in addition to the usual Chamber activities of publishing a weekly e-letter and quarterly paper newsletter, providing resources and referrals to their members, and strengthening the Pulaski County business community and the county at large.  Overall, 2013 has been a year full of initiatives, events, and positive successes.

Incoming 2014 Chamber President Brooks Dawson, who is manager of Pulaski Food City, looked ahead and shared some of his vision for the coming year.  Continuing to build on the successes of 2013 and prior years, he emphasized that our Chamber does not operate like a lot of other Chambers, with our focus being 100 percent on the needs of Pulaski County.  It is on those issues and needs that the 2014 Program of Work will be built.

Through a wide variety of initiatives and programs, the focus of 2014 will be three-fold:

•Development of our future workforce,

•Promotion of small businesses and tourism, and

•Serve as liaison for business/industry/government.

Everyone in the community will be hearing about a very exciting and much-needed program on which the Chamber and LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski will be working in the beginning of 2014.

Since so much of what any community accomplishes happens because of busy people who willingly share their time, efforts and resources, the Chamber will host a “Celebration Of Volunteers” event to recognize those volunteers who contribute to making the quality of life in Pulaski County better.

Everyone will want to keep watch on “Pulaski Happenings,” www.pulaskichamber.info/events, the one-stop community calendar where you can find out about all that is going on in Pulaski County!  Just one more way your Chamber plans to serve the community!