Chamber to celebrate 125 years at annual dinner
by Jason Lowrey
Dec 28, 2013 | 1529 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When 2014 arrives, the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 125th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the annual chamber dinner, to be held on Jan. 11, will have a roughly seven-minute video commemorating Bartow County’s progress, said chamber President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr.

Harris also said tickets for the annual dinner sold out within two weeks. However, those still interested in attending the event can email Joy Salter at joy@cartersvillechamber.com to be added to the waiting list.

The annual dinner will see outgoing chair Wayne Moore pass the gavel to incoming chair Adena Harper. Harper said the anniversary would provide the chamber and its members a chance to look back and see where the organization has come from.

“Well, I’m excited to be able to share and look back at where we’ve come in 125 years. ... We’re excited to showcase our existing industry, our emerging industry, as well as the businesses that help start it. ... If you look back and look at the gentlemen that started the chamber, they were in mercantile, they were in banking, they were in farming, and so it’s nice to see where we have come with our industries and our chamber membership,” she said.

For Harris, the growth since he became president and CEO of the chamber in 2011 has been a positive example of what happens when businesses get involved with the chamber and its activities.

“You’ve got to listen to folks to find out what’s important to them; get them involved in the chamber,” he said. “Sometimes their way might not be exactly your way, but you see them get in here ... serve another person, get them signed up, that’s another person. There’s a magic about that.”

Harper said she and her incoming board had four initiatives they plan to work on throughout 2014, and she plans to lay them out during the Jan. 11 dinner. However, she did say creating a strategic plan to manage chamber growth over three, five and 10 years was one of her priorities, as well as getting members more involved with the chamber’s activities.

When working with businesses, she added, she will not limit herself to one area of Bartow County.

“And I’m the first chairman of the board that’s from Adairsville. You know, when people say downtown, I don’t look at it as downtown Cartersville. I look at it as downtown everywhere. I don’t look at where Cartersville ends and Adairsville starts and where Emerson starts,” she said. “I look at it as a county. ... Cities are very important, but as a chamber we encourage membership all through the county. So I don’t just look at Cartersville. I look at every area.”

As of Monday, the chamber of commerce had 932 members, meaning the organization fell short of the 1,000 it hoped to have by the end of 2013. Harper believed the chamber would hit that number within a few months, if not by the annual dinner.

Moore said he would prefer to see steady growth in the chamber’s membership numbers.

“The most important thing for us [is] to be consistent in our growth, and whether you hit — we’ll hit 1,000 at some point in time — but I’d like to see those five or 10 new member gains every month. You know, just be consistent in our growth. I don’t want to see us just all of the sudden skyrocket up in one fell swoop,” he said.

When looking back at his year as chair, Moore said any successes were due to the chamber’s staff, development authorities and local government working together.

“My takeaway is we all work together and we’re starting to see — we’re starting to see the results of us working together. That’s just going to bring nothing but good things to our county,” Moore said.

Though Moore did not have any specific advice for Harper on handling the responsibilities of being the chair of the board, he said he did offer to discuss any anything she may need assistance with. Harper thanked him for his support.

“Wayne has been a wonderful leader. He has been an encourager to me and has worked with our board to move us forward in so many different directions. ... He wants us to be unified in what we do, and I just have been very proud of his — he is a very quiet man, but he is one that has definite opinions and has had a vision of this year, and it has been a wonderful vision,” she said.