Thursday evening’s annual assembly of the Higher Mount Ethereal Chamber of Commerce was a bit totally different than regular.
As an alternative of the packed eating room at Cross Creek Nation Membership, together with a sequence of recognitions and audio system, this yr’s occasion was significantly shorter, streamed on-line through the chamber’s YouTube channel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message from those that spoke was additionally fairly totally different. Once more, due to the pandemic.
Every of the three audio system — chamber government Randy Collins, outgoing board chair James Etringer, and incoming board chair Chris Lumsden — spoke of how difficult 2020 was, and the way the chamber had been compelled to be versatile, to adapt to the radically altering enterprise and social atmosphere created by the pandemic.
Etringer maybe finest summed up how 2020 was when he referenced final yr’s annual assembly, and his ideas at the moment when his remarks have been from the attitude of an incoming board president.
“Trying again eventually yr’s annual assembly … we got here off a really profitable yr. … Our membership was at an all-time excessive, each occasion we held that yr was profitable. … My ideas have been … let’s hold this momentum going, let’s hold the prepare on the tracks, don’t mess it up.
“Little did we all know what was to come back for 2020.”
COVID-19, already spreading quietly in several components of the world, was declared a pandemic by the World Well being Group lower than a month after the chamber’s 2020 assembly, and earlier than March was over, North Carolina — in addition to a lot of the remainder of the nation — was in a lockdown with extreme limits on actions outdoors of houses.
Whereas a lot of these limits have been eased considerably all year long, the chamber ended up canceling most of its scheduled occasions in 2020, together with the Autumn Leaves Pageant.
“It is a main occasion for our group, a serious occasion of the chamber. …The cancellation for that competition was laborious. … It reaches deep into our group,” Etinger mentioned. Not solely is the competition a serious tourism and cultural gathering, he mentioned it’s usually the most important fundraising alternative for lots of the native charitable organizations which arrange vendor cubicles there.
“We hope to host that occasion once more in 2021 … however time will inform,” he mentioned.
The yr was not fully misplaced, nonetheless. The outgoing president reminded these watching that the chamber was in a position to maintain a golf event, a digital job truthful, a fundraising rooster stew (promoting greater than 400 quarts) and a web based public sale. This was together with common Zoom conferences that gave chamber members an opportunity to the touch base with each other in addition to hear from native authorities leaders.
“2020 was a uniquely difficult yr, one which produced unprecedented disruption for many companies right here in Surry County and throughout the globe,” mentioned incoming board chair Chris Lumsden, who serves as president and CEO of Northern Regional Hospital. He expressed hope that with correct precautions, the widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, “and some answered prayers, 2021 shall be higher for us.”
Whereas many companies have discovered themselves struggling to outlive, Lumsden inspired the group to stay a part of the chamber and to depend on it as a useful resource.
“The chamber is extra related to our companies and group than ever earlier than,” he mentioned. Lumsden mentioned many of us taken the chamber with no consideration throughout good instances, when outdoors assist could not appear as vital for a enterprise’ success, however throughout lean instances the chamber’s means to assist drive the enterprise group turns into evident.
“Our chamber is one wonderful supply of assist throughout good and dangerous instances,” he reminded these watching, including that it solely is sensible for space companies to assist and work with the chamber, for considerably egocentric causes if for no different goal. “What’s good for our chamber is sweet for our group. And what’s good for our group is sweet 4 our and your enterprise.”
Lumsden mentioned in the course of the pandemic, and transferring ahead, the chamber has needed to change into extra nimble, extra inventive, to regulate to the altering enterprise local weather. That’s meant, and can proceed to imply, continuously reevaluating actions it carries out, what occasions could be held safely, and to search for modern methods sponsors, chamber members and occasion individuals could be a part of chamber actions.
Randy Collins, chamber president and CEO, began the evening’s assembly, with feedback echoed by the opposite audio system, however he additionally had a phrase of optimism and encouragement for these watching.
“2020, as , was a difficult yr for all of us, however I do know 2021 brings us hope for higher instances and prosperity for your enterprise.”
He mentioned, irrespective of the circumstances, the chamber would proceed to work to seek out methods to satisfy its mission, which is to advance, promote, and encourage “profitable enterprise progress for our members.”
After the three males spoke, the annual Citizen of the 12 months award was president to native businessman and former Mount Ethereal main, David Rowe. A full account of that presentation is accessible within the Friday, Feb. 13 version of The Mount Ethereal Information (Rowe named Citizen of 12 months) or on-line at https://www.mtairynews.com/information/94395/rowe-named-citizen-of-year.