This year has flown by. Most years do as we get older. This year seems to have gone quicker than most with so many Chamber events on the calendar.
We set the bar high for 2014, and I am proud to say we have reached that bar and exceeded expectations in many ways.
I am proud of our committee chairs and the accomplishments they have achieved during 2014. Kudos to Jud Nave, Phil Carter, Melanie Minter, Scott Jasper, Debbie Stewart and Paul Jewell for helping make 2014 another great year for the Chamber.
Economic Development was led by Jud Nave. Jud and his committee had great monthly meetings and pulled off the Industry Appreciation Day as we recognized Nashville Display. This committee has very active members with 25 or more showing up each month. Great leadership from Jud and interesting and informative programs have made for a great 2014 for Economic Development.
Phil Carter has led our Government Relations committee. What a busy group! With the big election year Phil and his committee put on several political forums that grew in number with each event. My hat goes off to Phil and his committee as they have set the bar high for 2015.
Membership was led by Melanie Minter. Melanie is no stranger to Lebanon as she was born and raised here and is working at the local Chevrolet/GMC dealership. Her insight into local businesses along with her charisma and charm has made for a great 2014. We have retained almost 93% of our membership and have added another 85 new members as we close the year with 910 chamber members on the roster. That number is a little shy of my goal of 1,000 members by year end 2014, but if you don’t set your goals high, what will you have at the end of the day? (This blog was written with two more weeks to go in 2014, so we may end the year even better that reported!)
Scott Jasper and the Education Committee put on another successful Taste of Wilson County and raised over $17,000 to fund teacher grants, scholarships, and other education efforts in the county. Last year we moved the “Taste” to the public square and this year, because of the construction going on downtown, had to move it again to the East Main leg of the square. Two words come to mind: HUGE SUCCESS! We didn’t know what to expect from the new venue, but merchants and patrons had nothing but positive comments about having the event down East Main. We may have found a new permanent home for the Taste of Wilson County.
Debbie Stewart and her committee pulled off a successful “Jammin’ with the General” series as well as one of the best Christmas parades in recent history. Her team is serious about their events and it shows in their dedication and work ethic. Thanks again to Debbie and her team on the Community Tourism Committee.
Last but certainly not least is the Sports Council. Paul Jewell picked up a fumble and took over the committee a few months into 2014. He not only recovered the fumble, but he scored a touchdown with several great events including the annual Cary Harbrecht Memorial Golf Tournament and the Sports Council’s partnership with Cumberland University hosting the Mid-South Conference College Basketball Tournament at the university. Paul and his committee are very active and contribute thousands of dollars to the community through their events.
My Board members have all pitched in through their participation in Board meetings, Business After Hours, ribbon cuttings and open houses. They all have participated in many Chamber-sponsored events throughout the 2014 year, and I deeply appreciate their willingness to serve their Chamber.
Our most challenging event this year is the search effort for a new President to lead our Chamber in 2015 and years to come. There is no way we will replace our own Sue Vanatta. She has truly brought our Chamber from out-door plumbing to in-door facilities in her 23 years of service. We know she has set the bar high for her successor, and the challenge to find someone with the unique qualities for this position has been a daunting task. We hope to have someone in place by mid-to-late January, and we look forward to working with this person in the coming months.
Hats off as well to our office staff! Andrea Wilke, Tonya Jones and Anna Syler have been the backbone of every event. Their willingness to go the extra mile has made this year pretty special. With Sue’s leadership, office staff work ethic and the hundreds of volunteers across Lebanon and Wilson County, it is safe to say Lebanon and Wilson County is truly the “place to be” in Tennessee.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Chamber, please contact the office by calling 615-444-5503.