The Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the year that was and highlighted the body of work to come during its annual membership meeting Thursday.
Outgoing board chair Terry Kennedy outlined a few of the Chamber's key accomplishments over the past 18 months. The list includes marketing and branding enhancements, website and communication upgrades, a stronger social media presence and a successful Eggs & Issues series.
Kennedy said the Chamber's role in the community is more vital now than ever.
“It really is an exciting year for the Chamber,” she said. “We have to pool our time and resources … raise our collective voices in support of the business community.”
Kennedy's remarks echoed a central theme at the breakfast; the role of the Chamber is changing, constantly developing with new responsibilities.
“We are in changing times,” said the Rev. David Luke, Chamber board chair-elect.
Speaking on the ongoing discussions on government unification and also to broader issues, Luke alluded to the Chamber's role and responsibility to the community at-large and to its business constituency.
“We may not agree on every point but I'm hoping that at the end of the day we can say we did what was best for Milledgeville.”
Luke said the organization and its members, along with other local leaders and elected officials, must keep in mind that the decisions of the present-day have a long-term and lasting impact.
The Chamber's mission is unique in that it extends to nearly every sector of the community, noted Kennedy.
Said Chamber CEO April Bragg: “I believe we are at a unique position to have a greater impact on our community in the coming year.”
The morning also included special recognition of outgoing members of the Chamber board of directors and outgoing Chamber Ambassadors. Incoming board chair, Dr. Dale Young, also highlighted Chamber objectives for 2014. The ambitious list includes efforts to continue strengthening partnerships with the local development authority, implementing a new member investment model, solidifying new Chamber revenue streams and forming new community partnerships.
Another key mission is to further extend the Chamber's reach into the community and continuing the organization's advocacy efforts.
Keynote speaker for the breakfast was Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. He noted that Dalton and Milledgeville have faced similar obstacles in recent years resulting from the economic recession. He spoke on the challenges of rebuilding economic vitality and how the Dalton and Whitfield County community has worked to reposition itself after job losses and industry closures, similarly to the efforts that lay ahead for the local community.
“Leading a community is a difficult task,” he said, but he added, it is the most rewarding work he as ever done.
Anderson said communities must work with three guiding principles in their rebuilding efforts: They must have a since of urgency, they mustn't rely on others and, most importantly, they must work together to get things accomplished.
Baldwin County appears to be on the right track, he said.
“You're doing the things I think a community has to do.”