Their goal is 200, and that's low-balling it, according to Columbia County Chamber of Commerce officials.
Tommy Norris (left) and Gorden Renshaw speak at the start of the drive.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The chamber on Tuesday kicked off its second membership drive, which will run until the end of June and comes with the expectation to get 200 new businesses to join.
"We really expect to get quite a few more members than that," the drive's chairman Tommy Norris said during a news conference in the parking lot of Fatz Cafe, which officially signed up as the drive's first member.
More than 110 chamber volunteers have divided into 16 teams to sell the benefits of joining to non-members.
The chamber now has 530 members and adding more dues-paying businesses will help the group in its ongoing effort to become more autonomous, chamber chairman Wayne Bridges said.
"We decided a couple of years ago that Columbia County's chamber would be self-sustaining," he said. "This is sort of the first big step."
In recent years, the chamber has incorporated as a entity separate from the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. While the two business groups continue to share some resources, Columbia County's chamber now has its own full-time director and retains the dues it collects during the membership drives.
The chamber's executive director Gordon Renshaw said a successful drive will help the group gain more staff and financial stability.
He said reasons for businesses to join include access to insurance benefits and networking opportunities.
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