An Ambassador’s job is to be a representative and a surrogate, and that certainly defines the role of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber Ambassadors.
“We are 39 members who represent the Chamber at about 100 activities each year,” explained 2019 Ambassador Chairman, Sally Sutton. “We like to think of ourselves as cheerleaders for our fellow Chamber members.”
The Ambassadors are a recognizable group, always sporting their green blazers as a sign of prosperity for the business community. They attend almost every Chamber event eager to welcome new businesses and celebrate the old.
Through these events, the Ambassadors have the privilege of meeting and “recognizing the business owners making a difference in the community,” explains Michael Smith, a new Ambassador.
The goodwill group of volunteers is said to not only support other businesses, but “genuinely cheer each other on,” as described by Brittany Ray, another new addition to the group.
They celebrate each other in their respective businesses and when they hit certain benchmarks within the Ambassadors Program.
The Ambassadors gathered on Tuesday, January 21 for an awards ceremony reflecting the fourth quarter of 2019.
The individuals earn points by attending events. When a certain number has been reached, they are awarded an official Chamber Ambassador name badge to wear on their green blazers.
Paula Avery (Colson Printing Co.), Desiree Hagan (Winnersville Elite Cheer & Dance), Cherise McKinnon (Sip With Cherise), Brittany Ray (Coastal Home Care, LLC) and Michael Smith (Greater Valdosta United Way, Inc.) reached this status in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Chamber Chairman of the Board, Lee McArthur, awarded those present with their badges.
Ambassadors join the program for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make business connections.
“In order to help my company grow, I knew I had to become a part of something bigger than myself. As a Chamber Ambassador I have made invaluable connections in the community & met so many new friends,” Ray said.
In terms of community involvement, becoming an Ambassador seemed like the logical next step for Avery.
“Being an Ambassador allows you to participate and be a part of the Chamber in a more up close and personal way,” explained Avery. “You personally meet the businesses and community members, which is amazing.”
Hagan also enjoys the involvement and “celebrating the many great achievements of others in the community.”
In addition to learning about the business community at each event, the Ambassadors spend a great deal of time together and are happy to learn from each other through internal networking.
“I see this circle as my mentors as I begin my entrepreneurial journey after a career in the Air Force,” McKinnon said.
As a young professional, Hagan also enjoys the mentorship.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to connect with others in the business community, but being an Ambassador has helped me make connections both inside and outside of the group,” she added.
Keep an eye out for these green blazers in the community. This bunch is more than willing to make a new connection.
For more information on the Chamber Ambassador Program, contact Lauren Pope at 229-247-8100 ext 231.
Photo Caption: Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, Lee McArthur, awards Brittany Ray, Cherise McKinnon, Michael Smith and Desiree Hagan official Ambassador name badges.
While the Barber House is occupied by the nine Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber staff members, there is a group of 17 individuals who play an incredibly significant role in the functions and success of the organization.
The Chamber Board of Directors is made up of local business owners and operators who come together to be sure standards are met and maintained. No big decisions are made without the consultation of the board.
All of the 17 members are nominated by a committee and elected by the Chamber members. They serve three year terms.
October’s election earned a spot for three new board members, Elton Dixon, President of Enay Coaching, LLC; Britt McLane of Carson McLane Funeral and Lisa Register, Vice President of Comfort Keepers. Register in particular has seen the Chamber from a number of perspectives. She used it as a resource when opening a new business and became a Chamber Ambassador all before being elected to the Board.
Register, now a 10 year Chamber Ambassador, is excited to take her involvement to the next level.
“The Chamber has done so much for Comfort Keepers and I am excited to give back,” said Register. “I thoroughly enjoy being out in the community celebrating new and expanding businesses. As a board member, I will be able to encourage them even more by sharing what all resources are available for them through the Chamber.”
McLane’s family business has been a staple in Valdosta. They’re known for their service and care for families in their time of need. The funeral home has been a Chamber member for 64 years and McLane is honored to be representing on the Board. “Our funeral home has been a member of the Chamber for generations, but I am looking forward to developing new relationships and serving this community in a new and interesting way!” McLane expressed.
Enay Coaching, on the other hand, is a newer name to Valdosta but has quickly gained credibility. Dixon ended a career in the Air Force at Moody decided to make Valdosta a permanent home for he and his family.
“Starting a business was one more step to serving the community we are now proud to call home,” Dixon stated.
His business in particular has him more than prepared to take on such a significant role.
“Enay Coaching is a team building business. I am excited to now have joined another team that will work collectively together to positively impact our community,” Dixon added.
The Chamber is pleased to have these three additions. Together, they are sure to do great things over the next three years.
PHOTO CAPTION: New Chamber Board of Directors Members Elton Dixon and Lisa Register stand out front of the Chamber.
Lowndes County Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker gave Chamber members an update this week on the progress of the newly-created Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission at the first meeting of the year for the Chamber’s Economic Development Policy Committee.
Created in 2019, lawmakers tasked the commission with examining the State’s freight and logistics network and recommending improvements. Appointed by Lt Governor Geoff Duncan to serve on the commission, Wisenbaker has joined members of the Georgia House and Senate, logistics professionals, and three other local elected officials as the commission met at the port in Savannah, Metro Atlanta and Dalton to discuss efficient goods movement.
As e-commerce expands and supply chains grow increasingly complex, it’s essential that we examine our transportation networks to ensure that Georgia makes investments that will ensure our competitiveness globally.
"The GFLC's findings can be significant for freight movement throughout Georgia, especially rural Georgia. The issue for the non-metro areas is road and bridge capacity that network our produce farms,” explained Gary Wisenbaker. “These weren't constructed for the heavy trucks now using them but for smaller farm type equipment vehicles initially destined to get from the farm to the nearest farmer's market. Clearly there's going to be a need to take a look at how best to fortify this infrastructure. And it looks like the GFLC is headed in the right direction on this score."
Mark Wisenbaker concurred that the monumental task of freight movement from Georgia ports is moving in the right direction.
“The GFLC is committed to finding ways to safely increase all types of freight movement by economically increasing the use of rail, air and trucks throughout the State of Georgia," Mark Wisenbaker said.
Pictured are members of the Chamber’s Economic Development Policy Committee: (Seated) Mark Wisenbaker, Gary Wisenbaker (committee chairman), and Chamber president Myrna Ballard. (Standing) Britt McLane, J.D. Dillard, Brad Eyre, Russ Collett and Jim Gallaway.
The Chamber’s primary purpose is to advocate for local business, help them build strong foundations and provide networking opportunities. To accomplish this, the Chamber has reached into the heart of the community and hired three part-time employees who are students at Valdosta State University.
All current part-time employees are not just students at VSU, but are deeply invested in their campus. Their campus and community involvement drew them to the Chamber.
Tyler Tucker is a former community service coordinator at VSU who has been employed part-time by the Chamber as its Government Affairs Assistant for five months.
“Throughout my daily activities, I am tasked with managing and enhancing the VoterVoice database functionality used by Chamber members, monitoring critical pieces of business-related legislation, and assisting the Chamber President with activities associated with the Government Affairs Council.” Tucker said.
Additionally, Tucker also helps to coordinate trips and programs such as the annual Legislative Lunch, Meet the Candidates, Members to be Heard sessions, GAC meetings and Washington, D.C. trips.
“Working at the Chamber has given me the perspective of working as a legislative assistant, project manager, researcher, event coordinator, graphic designer, and much more,” Tucker added.
Tucker is not the only part-time help at the Chamber; Bryan Tillman has been a Communications and Administrative Assistant for the Chamber for over a year while balancing his classes and being the assistant cheerleading coach for VSU.
“I coordinate for the Leading Business of the Week spotlights and Ribbon Cuttings. I am also responsible for writing the press releases for events, and I assist with the administration and operations for the Chamber,” Tillman said.
Tillman hopes his presence is a helpful one at the Chamber.
“The best part of the job is interacting with the public and being able to make someone smile. I hope to inform others with knowledge of the Chamber and how they can benefit from our exceptional resources,” Tillman added.
Another VSU student who is contributing to the success of the Chamber is Chandler Davis, the Business Development Assistant. His focus is split between advising local business interested in the Valdosta area and coordinating the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).
“I deal with all the demographic and infographic information for business owners that want to discover income ratio, the market and things of that nature. As for YEA!, I help kids ages 11-18, start their own business. By the end of the program, they’re business owners!” Davis said.
Davis hopes to acquire the skill set necessary to take his talents to the corporate sector.
The Chamber could not complete their daily tasks near as efficiently without these three. They are grateful for this connection with VSU.
Although a city staple with historic roots, your local Chamber not only embraces but welcomes change!
With a goal of staying up to date with Valdosta’s growth and today’s trends, the Chamber has begun implementing several changes to their business plan by updating their resources and methods of outreach.
For nearly 50 years, the Chamber produced an annual printed publication called Progress Magazine that outlined updates and trends in the community. To better suit their audience and their on-the-go lifestyles, this publication has stepped into the 21st century.
As of this year, Progress Magazine has officially rebranded to Progress Digital, a fully online quarterly report. In it’s new digital form, the magazine can be shared instantly between parties and platforms and viewed on the go.
“Making Progress a digital publication has allowed us to reach countless more viewers. It also gave them instant access to online resources,” explained Lauren Pope, Director of Communications & Marketing for the Chamber.
The first page of Progress Digital includes an “interactive key” showing readers how to fully utilize what the new digital publication has to offer. Different icons will take you to a photo album, a web page or email address when clicked on.
The same smart phone that can view Progress can also be used with the Chamber’s new mobile texting feature. Anyone can text “JOINVLCC” to 72727 to receive an instant membership quote. Chamber members can also be set up with this feature for their own business.
Furthering capitalizing on new media, the Chamber has been more active than ever on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.
“You can never underestimate the power of social media,” Pope expressed. “People are finally starting to recognize the Chamber by our social media presence.”
Nearly 3,000 people follow the Chamber on Facebook alone and the numbers continue to climb quickly.
These changes are only the beginning for the Chamber. Follow along with them on social media and by checking out this quarter’s issue of Progress Digital atwww.valdostachamber.com and look for Chamber Publications.
Good morning. I’m earlier than usual, but I hope you can tune in. It’s 8 a.m. instead of 8:30 and I’m filming from my car. Oddly enough this is one of my favorite places to be on a Tuesday morning. Every other week we are invited to Talk 92.1, the Scott James Show, to talk about the Chamber and what it’s doing. That kind of ties in to part 4 of the four prongs of the Chamber which is promoting. We are huge advocates for your business in every avenue of the media, but we wouldn’t be able to do that without our Media Cares Partner and Talk 92.1 is one of those. Our Media Cares Partner is a group of media that gives us in kind sponsorships for advertising. Some of our partners include: Fairway Outdoor, WALB, Talk 92.1, Motion Wave, Fusion Creative Marketing and tons of others. I will be posting a picture today listing our fabulous Media Cares Partners’. We could not do what we do to promote your business without them. I won’t keep you guys, but I want you to tune in to 92.1FM, the Scott James Show, we will have our 2017 board chairman James McGahee as well as our 2016 board chairman Michael Lee on the show. They will fill you in on what’s going on so tune in and enjoy. Have a great day!
Good Morning and Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you guys are having a good week so far. This morning I’m going to talk to you a little bit about part 3 of the 4 prongs of the Chamber. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve talked about the advocacy efforts of the Chamber, building your business through the Chamber and today we’re going to talk about connecting. Connecting is a quintessential part of the Chamber, any good chamber does that for you, but we try to take it to the next level. We offer so many networking events, meetings, and so much more. We offer events such as Business after Hours and Another Cup with the Chamber which can be seen as the morning version of Business after Hours. We also offer the Link and Valdosta Networking Professionals. Valdosta Networking Professionals actually meets noon today at Wooden Nickel Pub. So if you’re looking for a way to connect with professionals in the area, you’re new to the area, or you just haven’t quite figured out the direction you want to go with a business make sure you go hang out with them. Taylor Hutchinson is the chairmen for that organization; they are a great group of people. The Link meets at the Chamber on Thursdays. If you’re interested in either of those groups you can contact Betty Morgan, SEEDS Business Resource Center director. For other Chamber networking opportunities check out our calendar at www.valdostachamber.com. Here you will find tons of things that are offered to you to help you get involved in the community. We have the Chamber Annual Awards coming Feb. 23 and that’s also a great way to network. Tickets are still available for the Chamber Annual Awards and you can contact me if you are interested. So make sure you check out our events and come hang with us. For the most part events are free, but every so often we have an admission fee for things such as the Chamber Annual Awards. So contact me if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing you. Have a great day!
If you don’t know me already, I’m Kaitlyn Redish and I’m the Communications Coordinator here at the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and I’m Betty Morgan and I’m the Director of the SEEDS Business Resource Center. So if you’re not a member of the SEEDS Business Resource Center Facebook Page, which you should be, you’re probably not aware that Betty and I are going to start doing some Facebook Live Videos. I’ll be live every Tuesday morning at 8:30 and Ms. Betty will be live every Thursday morning at 8:30 just to give you guys a little bit of insight on the benefits to being a chamber member as well as some tips and tricks on networking and what the SEEDS Business Resource Center can offer you whether you’re a chamber member or not. So join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:30 and bring your coffee because we love coffee. We also welcome questions and we’ll hopefully be able to get you some answers right away, if not afterwards. So this morning I want to start by telling you a little bit about the Chamber. There are 4 parts to the Chamber: The advocacy, the building, the connecting, and the promoting. We’re going to start today by telling you a little bit about the advocacy efforts. Whether you’re a chamber member or not the Chamber is working for you every single day at the local, state and federal levels as the voice of business for you because obviously you guys are busy as business owners and entrepreneurs. We want to work for you so if you’ll stay tuned and tune in on Tuesdays and Thursdays hopefully we can convince Ms. Myrna, President of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and also a registered lobbyist, to come chat with us. We’ll have her kind of give you guys a feel for what’s going on in the area and how the advocacy efforts can affect you daily so tune in on Thursday right? Absolutely, come join me every Thursday morning at 8:30. We have a great number of resources that we can offer you and if you don’t know about them you don’t know how to use them; so give us a try. Yes, absolutely, we’ll see you Thursday. Have a great day.
VALDOSTA, GA- The Chamber would like to announce its 2017 Chairman’s Circle Members and thank them for their investment in the Chamber.
“Chairman’s Circle members invest membership dues above-and-beyond regular dues that allow the Chamber to provide above-and-beyond service to all of our members,” explained Chamber president Myrna Ballard. “Our Government Affairs Council could not do the work that it does without this supplemental investment, for example. Neither would several new programs, such as the Valdosta Business & University Alliance, be possible without the additional investment of our Chairman’s Circle members.”
The Chairman’s Circle is the most exclusive membership that the Chamber offers. The Chairman’s Circle is comprised of 12 of the top businesses in Valdosta and provides a foundation that allows the Chamber to be actively involved in the Valdosta-Lowndes area.
The Chairman’s Circle was created in 2013 and businesses like Citizens Community Bank and First State Bank & Trust took part in the founding of the membership level. Joining the two businesses as inaugural businesses are Ameris Bank, Georgia Power, Southeastern Credit Union, Southwest Georgia Bank, Fresh Beginnings/eLead1, SGMC, and Valdosta State University.
VALDOSTA, GA – The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce held an unveiling party last night to honor the individuals and companies who supported the Chamber’s “Investing For The Next Century” capital campaign in 2015. The campaign raised nearly $600,000 to make improvements to the Barber House and to help support the SEEDS Business Resource Center.
Guests were treated to a candlelight buffet provided by Covington’s Catering as more than 100 donors toured the house. Carla Penny, Chairman of the Barber Trust Advisory Board, welcomed the group and invited them to witness the improvements and celebratory plaques denoting their investment. Improvements included: newly remodeled bathrooms, a new roof, exterior paint, a new website for the SEEDS Business Resource Center and funds for the Business Incubator Study. Work on the Barber House is fifty percent complete, with more interior work and landscaping left to be done.
In addition to the 69 name plaques, were portraits of two local business leaders. Stifel commissioned a portrait honoring Johnny B. Lastinger, former Executive Vice President of the Chamber and founder of Valdosta Magazine and the W.P. “Billy” Langdale Foundation made a generous donation to the Chamber honoring its namesake. Members of the W.P. Langdale family were present to unveil the portrait, which “will hang in the Barber House as long as it stands,” said James McGahee, Chamber Board member.
The Barber House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for complimentary tours Monday through Friday.