While Harlem Mayor Scott Dean basks in the recognition of getting the highest number of businesses to join the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, his city wins the prize.
At a breakfast Thursday to reward volunteers who recruited new businesses in Columbia County's first-ever chamber membership drive, Dean received a $500 check from funds donated by First Bank. Instead of keeping the money, however, Dean will use it as seed money for a Harlem improvement project.
"This money is going to the Economic Development Authority for Harlem," Dean said. "I'm going to use this $500 as an initiative to get other private individuals to put money in the pot as well."
City officials recently launched an ambitious "streetscape" program designed to improve the appearance of Harlem's downtown area. The program is funded by a state grants and city funds, and Harlem officials also have asked Columbia County commissioners for financial assistance.
Dean signed up 14 members in the drive, netting him first-place honors but also earning Harlem recognition for its participation. "Thirty-one percent of the city's businesses (are chamber members)," Dean said. "It's almost double the national average."
Harlem Mayor Scott Dean won the top prize among members of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce membership committee for recruiting more than 30 percent of businesses in Harlem for the chamber.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The key to that strong showing, said Columbia County Chamber Executive Director Gordon Renshaw, is that the newly incorporated chamber has reached out beyond Evans and Martinez, offering service to the county's two cities. "The reason they joined for the most part is they are represented and do have a voice," Renshaw said.
In all, 93 new members joined the chamber during its drive. While still affiliated with the Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Columbia County's Chamber has moved toward greater autonomy and now has nearly 400 members of its own.
In addition to Dean, other chamber members were recognized Thursday for their roles in recruiting new members. They include:
Tommy Norris and Walter Massingale, tied for second place. Each received $250 checks, from $300 donated by Meybohm Realty and $200 donated by John Deere.
Pam Tankersley, fourth place, received a gift certificate donated by French Market Grille West
Ruthie Faircloth, fifth place, received a cash prize donated by Ernie Blackburn Construction.
Wayne Bridges, sixth place, received a gift certificate donated by Dino's Chicago Express.
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