01/17/13 — Chamber marks successful year; eyes 2013 goals

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Chamber marks successful year; eyes 2013 goals

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on January 17, 2013 1:46 PM

Outgoing Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Richards characterized 2012 as a year of transition Tuesday night, and indeed it was for the membership organization.

Speaking at the Chamber's annual banquet at the Walnut Creek Country Club, Richards recalled a year which saw the departure of former President Marian Mason, an interim stint by Ed Wilson and the arrival of Bonnie Grady, who will lead the Chamber into 2013.

But those changes throughout the calendar year seemed only to make the Chamber's accomplishments even more impressive as Richards noted the year saw the creation of the Small Business Advisory Council and increases in both membership and membership benefits.

He also lauded the Chamber's Military Affairs Commission, which was paramount in minimizing the threat of a wind farm that, until fall 2012, appeared poised to interrupt the mission of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, possibly leading to its closure.

The Chamber's annual report, which was released at the banquet, showed the organization's income outpaced expenses by more than $18,000. The group's annual sponsorship campaign also surpassed the previous year's total by more than $7,500.

Rick Sumner, who was the leader of that campaign, was named the Chamber's Volunteer of the Year during the program.

As he passed the gavel to Tom Bradshaw, the Chamber's new chairman appeared to be inheriting a more stable Chamber, but Bradshaw said following the ceremony that its mission, unchanged even during the transitional year, would remain the same.

"We're always looking to bring more value to the Chamber," he said.

Increasing resources to help small businesses will continue to remain a priority, he said, as will supporting the Chamber's various organizations, including the Wayne Education Network.

Continued partnerships with Wayne Community College, the Wayne Developmental Alliance and others will allow for the Chamber to continue to support work force readiness programs, he said, and the Government Affairs Committee and Leadership Wayne will both serve to bridge the gap between the business community and the government.