02/02/07 — Chamber board chairman named

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Chamber board chairman named

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 2, 2007 1:48 PM

The new chairman of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's board of directors said this week that she is prepared to lead the organization into a prosperous new year.

Georgia Dees, director of marketing for The Pines of Goldsboro, took the gavel Tuesday from outgoing chairman Tom Buffkin, president of Franklin Baking Co., a subsidiary of Flowers Bakery Inc., at the chamber's annual banquet.

Before turning over the chairmanship to Mrs. Dees, Buffkin reviewed the chamber's accomplishments for the year and credited volunteers and member businesses with leading a year marked by growth and continued business opportunity.

"As the 2006 chairman of the board of directors, I have seen many members join the chamber for networking and advertising reasons, and in only a few months, they began to truly recognize the full value of chamber membership and see our chamber as an extension of their business," he said.

Some of the chamber's accomplishments for the year included awarding 52 mini-grants to 21 county schools totalling $21,940; sponsoring leadership programs for youths and adults; participating in the development of a downtown master plan for Goldsboro, in strategic land use planning and in economic development efforts throughout the county; and supporting Seymour Johnson Air Force Base through its Military Affairs Committee.

The chamber also actively participated in discussion of transportation issues in the area and sponsored several opportunities for chamber members to connect to potential customers in the community including the Government Purchase Cardholder Trade Show.

Buffkin said the chamber also initiated several new programs designed to assist members including establishing a directory of business opportunities through the chamber and the Coffee Connection -- a business before hours event.

Mrs. Dees told members and guests Tuesday that she is ready to capitalize on 2006's hard work to help the chamber grow into 2007.

"There's an awful lot going on in Wayne County right now -- a lot of opportunity -- and your Wayne County Chamber of Commerce is going to be right there in the middle of it leading in some areas and lending support in others. But we're definitely going to be at the table," Mrs. Dees said.

The chamber plans to "step up to the plate" on some of the "big picture" issues facing the county in the next year that will shape the area's future. Whether that includes education or workforce development to properly train Wayne County students to meet the community's industrial needs, Mrs. Dees said she wants the chamber's leaders and members to make the community a better place to live for its children.

Mrs. Dees said she also wants the general public to have a stake in the future of the chamber by giving their suggestions and comments. She announced that the chamber will unveil a new, more user-friendly, Web site to help in that regard.

She said she also wants to see more momentum with the chamber's Travel and Tourism program, which will help create more jobs and bring more dollars into the economy.

The chamber's new board chairman also acknowledged the role of agribusiness in Wayne County and pledged to continue to work to promote the development of that industry.

"Ultimately, it's our goal and our challenge to create a favorable business climate and a stronger economy," Mrs. Dees said.

But that won't be possible without the support of the chamber's members and branching out to find more valuable members in the community, she said.

"This is your chamber. By working together, we can achieve much more than any one of us can do alone," she said.