What is Chamber Spectrum Benefits? Chamber Spectrum Benefits is a collaboration between the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and Taylor Insurance to provide affordable health benefits to small and mid-size businesses who MAY not be able to provide affordable and quality health benefits to their employees otherwise. This is possible by underwriting them and rating them as if they were large businesses under the umbrella of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber. The business must be a member of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and have two or more employees to qualify.
Chamber Spectrum Benefits will provide an opportunity for businesses in Valdosta-Lowndes County to offer a comprehensive, ACA-compliant health insurance program that provides cost saving for the employer and employee. Chamber Spectrum Benefits offers the “traditional” plans that people are accustomed to receiving. There is no maximum number of employees; however, all businesses must be a member of the Chamber.
More than 400 employees in the Valdosta-Lowndes community are covered under the Chamber Spectrum Benefits program, and have experienced a savings of over $1 million. That is money that is being saved by local businesses and employers to hire new employees and keep skilled employees. Several businesses have received savings as much as 300-500 percent.
Chamber Spectrum Benefits offers an integrated wellness benefit. This benefit help an individual earn up to a $500 credit off his/her deductible for completing a wellness initiative centered around improving an employee’s health behaviors.
The Chamber and Taylor Insurance will continue to build awareness with all business in Valdosta-Lowndes County and the surrounding counties that are searching for exceptionally affordable health benefits.
For more information about Chamber Spectrum Benefits, please contact Sandy Beal at 229-247-8100, ext. 229 or visit www.valdostachamber.com.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Pure H20 with a ribbon cutting to celebrate their grand opening in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area.
A self-serve purified water refill store, Pure H20 offers the purest, freshest and best tasting water available for drinking and cooking.
“We take the city’s already EPA approved water and run it through a carbon filter, a dual tank water softener,” said David Mullis, owner. “The result is fresh purified water that tastes better than any water you can buy in the store or from the bottlers.”
According to Mullis, water stores are popular on the west coast of the United States. Mullis wanted to offer a comparable service in Valdosta.
“There is no similar service in Valdosta and there are not many water stores on the East Coast,” Mullis said.
The goal for Pure H20 is to make contributions to build community water wells and offer water that may aid in reducing diseases.
Pure H20 is a valued member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
“The staff is absolutely wonderful,” said Mullis. “They are proactive in helping businesses, whether established or new.”
Mullis stated, “The Chamber provides numerous resources and has been prompt and professional in responding to my many requests for help.
The Chamber and Renasant Bank presented Ray Norton Tire and Auto Center with the February Small Business of the Month award.
For the past 30 years, Ray Norton has strived to offer exceptional auto services to Valdosta and the surrounding cities.
Ray Norton is an independent business offering a nationwide warranty on all the parts and labor they offer.
“We have two full-time Auto Service Excellence-certified technicians, each with over 20 years of experience,” said Sharon Norton, general manager. “We perform all repairs, except for muffler and transmissions.”
Ray Norton takes pride in the service and products they offer to their customers.
“We are Valdosta’s number one Michelin/BFG Goodrich Alliance dealer and can also obtain just about any name brand you’re looking for,” said Norton.
Customer commitment is Ray Norton’s first priority.
“We like to focus on relationships, after that everything else falls into place,” said Norton. “Relationships are important to us, and we to earn their trust.”
For the past 10 years, Ray Norton has been nominated for many awards.
Ray Norton has received awards for Best Auto Repair, Best Tire Store and Best Brake Shop and Valdosta Daily Times, Best of the Best.
Ray Norton is passionate about their involvement in the Valdosta-Lowndes County community.
According to Norton, the business has hosted its annual customer appreciation events for the past 23 years. The event is free to the community and includes food, prizes and entertainment.
Ray Norton is a proud supporter of the military.
“As a NAPA authorized repair facility, Ray Norton was part of a group of facilities that gave away a car to a military member,” said Norton. “We offer military discounts as well.”
Ray Norton are donors to local area non-profits such as LAMP, Options Now, WAFT, and Morningside Baptist Church’s “We Love Valdosta” event.
Ray Norton Tire and Auto Center are located at 2606 Bemiss Road, Valdosta. For more information, call 229-247-1555 or visitwww.raynortontire.com.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored Hair Color & Shears with a ribbon cutting on March 4, 2019, to celebrate and show the community the renovated site. Hair Color & Shears takes pride in helping women meet and keep up healthy hair.
Hair Color & Shears enjoys watching their clients leave happy and with an understanding for hair care. Owner Sharonda Thomas stated, “Hair Color & Shears provides a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, a place for clients to relax and be pampered. We strive to provide prompt and timely service.”
“Seeing each guest walk out with a smile on her face, feeling renewed with an extra pep in her step, and a better understanding of how to care for her hair is why I love what I do,” said Thomas.
In the future, Hair Color & Shears plans to offer more education so their guest can keep up a healthy look in between appointments.
Hair Color & Shears is a new and proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber allowed me the opportunity to showcase my business in front of people and gave me leads when opening my salon,” said Thomas. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and network with other great business owners in our city.” For more information on Hair Color & Shears, located at 5929 Bemiss Rd
Suite D, Valdosta, find the on Facebook or call (229) 630-1892.
PHOTO CAPTION: Chamber Ambassadors celebrate the renovation of Hair Color and Shears
On Tuesday, March 19, at 6:00 pm, the community is invited to Valdosta State University Pound Hall Auditorium to watch eleven teen entrepreneurs boldly take the stage to present their business plans before a panel of judges comprised of local leaders of industry. The students are poised to wow the crowd as they present themselves as young professionals.
The students, who range from 6th to 12th grade are from the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce's Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). They will have five minutes to pitch their business plans to prominent local members of the business community during the program’s annual YEA! Investor Panel Event “Shark Tank” style.
Based on the appeal and merit of the students’ plans and presentations, investors from six companies such as Southwest Georgia Bank, the program’s leading sponsor, will determine the amount of real funds to allocate to each student’s business or social movement that he/she pitches in the program.
The Investor Panel will be comprised of prominent local business people, including:
After hearing all pitches, the investors will select one business to advance to the national Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars Competition, where they will compete with students across the United States for college scholarships.
Truman Crow, now a senior at Lowndes High School, won second place in the competition last year. Crow reflected on the pitch event as one of the first times he actually spoke in a pitch style and
offered his advice to this year’s competitors.
“I would advise the students to take your time and enjoy the experience. Don’t get too nervous or upset if you stumble on words, because everyone there is impressed and supports you just by being there,” said Crow.
The Pitch event is free open to the public at Valdosta State University Pound Hall Auditorium beginning at 6:00 pm.
Interviews with the young entrepreneurs or members of the judging panel can be arranged during the event’s meet and greet that begins at 5:30 pm on March 19. Contact DeWayne Johnson, Program Director, at (229) 588-0866 for more information about the event.
Photo Caption: Truman Crow, runner-up in the 2018 YEA! Investor Panel Pitch Event, stands in front of the stage prior to presenting his pitch last year to investors for funding toward his business, The Tru-Foods Company.
The Chamber Ambassadors honored CrossFit Winnersville as the Leading Business of the Week for March. 11, 2019.
Providing high fives, encouragement and a good sweat, CrossFit Winnersville offers workouts from the basic to elite level. Since their opening, CrossFit Winnersville has grown from three athletes to more than 270 athletes. CrossFit Winnersville offers 13-15 classes every day for ages three years old to seventy years old.
CrossFit Winnersville is passionate about serving in the Valdosta-Lowndes County community. CrossFit Winnersville host events for the community such as Thanksgiving and Christmas for all the residents of Pines Family campus, an Easter egg hunt and an Easter worship service, a monthly fitness and faith workout, bible studies and more. They are also active in the Josh Sullivan Beat the Streets program.
“We have nine young men who have been with us now for almost three years,” said Kelly Barcol, coach. “We pick these boys up from Valdosta High School every day after school, and they do our Crossfit class and complete homework with a tutor.” The boys take part in a weekly bible study/discipleship each Friday. The people of CrossFit Winnersville are always eager to share their love and passion for helping others in the community.
“I am excited that loving others is in our DNA as a company,” said Barcol. “Having such a large group of people who all come together with their time and resources makes it easy to have a huge impact and so many people.”
CrossFit Winnerville is a proud member of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has always been a resource for me over the last 16 years,” said Barcol. “The Chamber has been at my disposal to help connect me with the right people at just the right time to grow our business.”
Barcol stated the Chamber seems to know about everything happening in the community. The Chamber is a great first stop for brainstorming, connecting with others, getting answers and being pointed in the right direction for anyone with a vision.
The Leading Business of the Week program is designed to recognize members who have partnered with the Chamber for at least five years. Marcotek Digital Office Solutions proudly sponsors the 2019 Leading Business of the Week program. For more information, visit www.ValdostaChamber.com/Leading-Business-of-the-Week.
Known as the “level-headed” guy that does not get involved in personalities and partisan politics, former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss will be the center of attention at the annual Legislative Lunch, co-hosted by the Valdosta Chamber, Valdosta Board of REALTORS®, Home Builders Association of South Georgia and Valdosta Rotary Club on April 5.
“Sen. Chambliss brings a wealth of experience from his legislative career,” said Chamber Government Affairs Council chairman John Page. “He served in the U.S. House and Senate, representing our great state. Because of that mindset, combined with his record of service, he can give regular people the deep insight to understand politics and government in a balanced way. A true statesman, Sen. Chambliss is deeply respected by both political parties. He holds his ground when it comes to his deep principles and does not blink.”
For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, please visit www.ValdostaChamber.com or email Connor McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 247-8100, Ext. 237.
Caption: Former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss expected for "An Insider's Look at Washington, D.C." April 5
Helping Businesses Understand How To Build an Actionable Sales Plan to Reach Revenue and Profitability Goals
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, SEEDS Business Resource Center, and the Valdosta HubSpot User Group will host a free workshop titled “How To Build an Actionable Sales Plan to Reach Revenue and Profitability Goals” at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, March 14, at the South Georgia Regional Library. There is no cost to attend and lunch is provided. However, attendees must register in advance by visitingvaldostachamber.com .
The workshop will be presented by Anne Shenton, Agency Director of Ascend Inbound Marketing. Major learning objectives include how to:
· Begin with the end in mind: How to set SMART goals
· Identify which products, services and customers to focus on (and which ones to cut)
· Build momentum with quick wins
· Create an action plan
· Define and measure your metrics for success
Shenton founded Ascend Inbound Marketing, a division of Nexxtep, in late 2015. Since then, Ascend has achieved triple digit revenue growth year-over-year and hired several full-time employees. How did they get there? With the right plan. In this workshop, Anne will share how they did it.
“It’s no secret that the way prospects buy has changed. We’re excited to have Anne share her sales expertise with our local business community,” said Betty Morgan, VP for Business Development, Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.
Advanced registration is required by March 11. For more information and to register for the event, visit http://bit.ly/buildsalesplan or call the Chamber of Commerce at 229-247-8100.
Ascend Inbound Marketing is a growth agency focused on fostering long-term inbound marketing and web design partnerships with businesses throughout the Southeastern United States. Ascend values client relationships and thrives on solving marketing challenges by providing lead generation and customer acquisition. Founded in 2015, Ascend is a division of Nexxtep Technology Services, Inc. and is headquartered in Valdosta, Georgia. Learn more at ascendinbound.com.
Valdosta HubSpot User Group is a dynamic group of inbound marketers and communication professionals from South Georgia who meet up to educate and inspire others on how to market, sell and grow their business or organization using inbound. HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.
Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce was established in 1912 and serves as the unifying force for enhancing the economic, social and cultural advancement of South Georgia. It is comprised of more than 1,200 members and is home to 16 major committees and programs, with more than 200 volunteers. Learn more at valdostachamber.com.
SEEDS Business Resource Center (Sowing Entrepreneur and Economic Development Success) is an entrepreneur resource center specializing in customized research and data. SEEDS provides up-to-date information for new and existing businesses searching for custom market data and more. Learn more at seedsbusinessresourcecenter.com.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 107th Annual Awards & Dinner sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center on Feb. 28. Throughout the evening, the chamber doled out awards and recognized businesses and individuals in the community.
First Commerce Credit Union sponsored the event.
“For the second year in a row, we are absolutely thrilled to be the presenting sponsor for this great event,” said Heath Dawson, senior marketing executive. It is an absolute pleasure and joy for us to see so many familiar faces and friends in the community show up for this amazing event.”
The Ambassador of the Year Award, sponsored by BioTest Pharmaceuticals, was received by Sally Sutton, owner of Anchored Media Marketing. The Ambassador of the Year award recognizes a member of the Chamber Ambassador program with the most accumulated points for attending ribbon the Chamber’s member celebration events.
“This has been a really exciting year, it pushed me beyond my limits and getting me out in front of a lot of people,” said Sutton. “The chamber has an awesome team that is passionate about supporting small and large business. The ambassadors that are out there representing the chamber as the ‘cheerleaders’ are truly the backbone of the Chamber, and we hope they know how much they are appreciated!”
Hargray was the proud sponsor of the Member’s Choice award which was awarded to Kona Ice of Lowndes. This award recognizes a member dedicated to quality customer and client services who raises the expectations of customer service and courtesy in the community.
“We would like to thank all of the chamber members we’ve met and have built relationships with,” said Russell Hassenstab, owner. “We got into our business to see what we could bring back to Lowndes County. If its flavored shaved ice and drummed music, then we plan to keep doing it.”
Jakarta Washington, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University received the TeamTemps Most Valuable Employee Award. The most Valuable Employee Award is given to an individual who possesses impressive job knowledge and extraordinary work ethics, while demonstrating commendable effort in the workplace.
“I’m extremely appreciative,” said Washington. “I want to thank MY chamber for the opportunity to be ambassador and being able to meet so many wonderful people within the community.”
Lindsey Rogers, Hospice of South Georgia, won Young Professional of the Year, sponsor by Taylor Insurance. The Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a young professional who has made a positive impact on his or her business while maintaining a devotion to community service and civic engagement.
“I am beyond blessed and beyond grateful for the being able to work with Hospice of South Georgia. Thank you to MY chamber for this honor,” said Rogers. “I hope most of you have the opportunity in your career to experience, as a young professional, someone to see you, see your talents, see your skills and just give you the opportunities you seek. For me that has been my boss at Hospice of South Georgia, Susan Bowden, and I am so grateful for that.”
Renasant Bank sponsors the Small Business of the Month program and therefore presented the Small Business of the Year Award, which was won by Tickle Me Pink Daycare and Learning Center. The Small Business of the Year award acknowledges a creative and innovative small business with 20 or fewer employees that demonstrates growth and stability in the business community.
“I never wanted to be an educator, but it was only because I wanted to be different and unique. said Pamela Carter, owner and director. “I come from a long line of educators, my grandmother, my father, my mom and I wanted to create my own path. God allowed me to do that only to bring me back to what was always in heart, and always in my soul and what I was most passionate about. I care more about the kids at Tickle Me Pink and in the community then I do myself. I thank my mom and dad for teaching me how to love others and put them before my own self.”
The BIG Thinker award winner this year was Miller Hardware Company, and was sponsored by Reinhart Food Service.
The BIG Thinker award is presented each year to a successful home-grown entrepreneurs who cares and gives back to their community. This year, the Chamber wanted to recognize homegrown entrepreneurs who have made it a family affair. Only about 3% of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. Valdosta- Lowndes has 3 successful, growing, fourth-generation, family-owned businesses that have been in continuous operation for more than 100 years.
“It’s a great honor and we are very humbled to accept it,” said Dutton Miller, third generation owner and operator. We live in an incredible community, incredible customers and an incredible chamber of commerce with people who care as much about our business as we do, and it takes a lot of those folks to make it work. We realize we are super blessed, and we thank you for the honor of this award.”
The 2019 A.L. Girardin award is presented to a Chamber member who has made extraordinary contributions to the Chamber and the local community. As hard as this Chamber staff works, there is only so much that your hired, professional staff can accomplish on behalf of its members and our community. To be the most effective Chamber possible – to be the Chamber that this 5-star community deserves – the Chamber relies on the commitment of Valdosta’s top business leaders. Peter Layne of The Home Depot won the 2019 A.L. Girardin, presented by the staff the Chamber of Commerce.
“I want to say what an honor this is. I have worked with chambers in different cities, and I have never worked with a chamber as good as this one.”
Myrna Ballard, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, thanked the many vendors that participated in the production of the event, including Event Point and Motion Wave Productions, Steven Heddon, with Fusion Creative Marketing, Estel Powell for the voice announcements, Fresh Beginnings for the VIP table gifts, Central Floral Company for the beautiful table arrangement, The Home Depot for providing the beautiful green plants, and LS Smith Photography.
The 2019 Chamber Board Chairman, Lee McArthur provided the last remakes of the evening.
It truly is an honor and privilege to be the incoming chairman this year,” said McArthur. The chamber isn’t the staff. It isn’t the beautiful building downtown. The chamber is us, the members, you, me. So yeah, we’re going places. That’s YOUR Chamber. That’s MY Chamber.”
Caption: The Valdosta – Lowndes Chamber of Commerce Staff present Peter Layne of The Home Depot with the prestigious A.L. Girardin award
Training young entrepreneurs, giving recognition to STAR students and teachers, and acknowledging the accomplishments of adult learners are the major goals of WEST, Inc. This charitable foundation is an arm of the Valdosta Chamber. WEST stands for Workforce Education Support Team. The WEST, Inc. Board met recently to review progress in 2018 and to elect new officers for 2019.
“WEST, Inc. is a vehicle for individuals and businesses to contribute to the Chamber’s work in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, the STAR Student and Teacher Banquet, and our annual recognition of Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education (EAGLE) Award winners,” explained Chamber president and WEST, Inc. secretary/treasurer Myrna Ballard.
WEST, Inc. was incorporated in 1993 as The Education Council, Inc. by top business leaders in the Chamber including Rusty Griffin, Ed Crane, Dutton Miller and Glenn Copeland. The mission was to provide a bridge between the business community and local education institutions, allowing partnerships and collaborations that could enhance educational outcomes. Over the years, WEST, Inc. has changed with the times, concentrating on entrepreneur education and workforce development.
At the annual meeting of the WEST, Inc. Board of Directors in February, Clinton Beeland, president and CEO of CJB Industries, was recognized as the outgoing chairman.
“I enjoy serving on the WEST Board,” said Beeland, who continues to serve as a Board member. “Through WEST we provide funds for the STAR banquet to recognize many of our areas brightest students. We also support young entrepreneur development, and provide support and recognition for adult GED students and their tremendous effort.”
Dr. Tirrell Andrews, president of Peaceway Counseling & Mediation Services, Inc. was elected 2019 chairman of the board. “I serve on the WEST Board because the mission of the Board aligns with my goals. WEST recognizes the performance of outstanding high school students and teachers through the STAR Banquet, supports adults who continue their education and are recognized by the EAGLE Reception, and I appreciate and support the work of the Chamber through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).”
Laura Fitch, HR Coordinator for Smith Drug Company, was elected vice chairman. Other members include John Page (Page Insurance and Financial Services), Dr. Brad Lawson (Georgia Christian School), LaVerne Rome (Lowndes County Schools) and Jennifer Steedley (Valdosta City Schools).
Pictured are WEST, Inc. Board members Clinton Beeland, Dr. Tirrell Andrews, John Page, Laura Fitch, LaVerne Rome, Dr. Brad Lawson, Jennifer Steedley and Myrna Ballard