Among its goals are to create a business-friendly atmosphere in Columbia County and to serve as the voice of county businesses.
Preston Moss (left), the vice president for Blanchard and Calhoun Insurance Co.; Dwight Bagwell (second from left), the owner of Bagwell Insurance Services in Martinez; and Karen Chrjapin (far right), the owner of Post Net in Martinez and Evans, are business partners with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce's member-to-member program. According to Gordon Renshaw (second from right), the chamber's executive director, the program is to generate business among chamber members.
Photo by Quandra Collins
And as the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce rolls into 2005, officials say the group continues to grow and plan.
"We've grown by 130, 140 percent,'' said Gordon Renshaw, the chamber's executive director. "That's what we were able to determine. We're one of the fastest-growing chambers around.''
Since its inception a year and a half ago, Renshaw said, the chamber's membership has grown from 300 to about 670.
Now, he said, the chamber is looking to offer some new programs. One is the Ambassadors Program, a group of volunteers with the chamber who will provide support to new members and take a visible role with the chamber at events.
The chamber also will begin offering a member-to-member discount program to generate more business among chamber members.
Also added this year are meetings with hotel and restaurant owners, Renshaw said.
"Over the next two months, we're going to invite and interview a good number of the restaurant owners to find out what they need,'' he said.
In the past year and a half, Renshaw said, he thinks the chamber has been effective by establishing such groups as the county's manufacturers council and business development committee.
The manufacturers council, he said, helped bring attention to the need for an Augusta Technical College campus in Columbia County, something Gov. Sonny Perdue recently released funds for.
"They sent letters to the governor, and the chamber was the vehicle by which they were able to do that,'' he said.
Renshaw said the business development committee, which analyzes business sectors and what they say they need, has attracted members.
"I would say the business development committee is another good representation of what we've done right and what has attracted a lot of members.''
Renshaw said the chamber is committed to increase its services even more this year.
"We're becoming very quickly the key voice that represents businesses in Columbia County, and we were able to throughout 2004 be able to speak out on behalf of business sectors and the business community overall on issues,'' he said. "But in 2005, it's going to be much more accentuated.''
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