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New Lee Chamber of Commerce president seeks direction for future

WALTER LITTRELL • Feb 8, 2007 at 8:27 AM

PENNINGTON GAP - With fewer than a dozen out of 70-plus members present for the February meeting of the Lee County Area Chamber of Commerce, new President Bill Sage stressed the need for the organization to find ways to grow - and possibly change. He also encouraged the membership to let others know what the chamber can do to benefit their businesses.

"We need to be able to move, to change and to decide what we're going to do as a chamber," he said in opening remarks.

Sage stressed that members need to let him and other members know in what direction they want to take the chamber in the coming year, to come up with a plan, and to implement that plan in order to remain a viable organization.

Sage said he has recently been reading chamber minutes all the way back to the early 1990s and discovered that from time to time mention has been made of a need for change, but any efforts to change have fallen by the wayside. This leaves him wondering whether or not a change is wanted because of a failure to do so.

However, Sage said, he is aware that "change hurts and nobody wants to do things differently."

Sage said after reading the group's bylaws, mission statement and other documents, he has learned that those are not being followed and if the group wants to continue with the status quo, it needs to make appropriate amendments. For example, Sage said, the structure is supposed to be that members vote for officers and a board of directors, and the directors and officers vote on all issues, rather than the general membership as is the current reality.

"We also have to decide on what we want to accomplish," he said, and suggested that all members be contacted directly with a questionnaire and get their opinions on why they are members, what they like about the chamber, what they would like to change, how the chamber could help their business or interest, and what roles they would be willing to serve with the chamber.

Those present said they would like to see the chamber have more community visibility, offer more to attract new membership and to get the current membership more active, and to make the organization more business friendly.

No changes were suggested, and Sage encouraged members to be considering the issues and to be prepared to discuss them further next month. He also encouraged the membership to consider the various committees the chamber has and on which they would like to serve.

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