Good to see everyone again
In a covid weary world, the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce took time Thursday night (Feb. 10) to sponsor a much-needed gathering to receive inspiration, award community involvement, and remind the business community there is someone in their corner.
Gatherings like the Chamber Annual Meeting have been shut down by the pandemic, but the Chamber late last year reactivated its most popular fund-raiser, the Fan Challenge Oyster Roast - the difference was, the oyster roast was outside. Thursday was an indoor gathering at two venues on the Presbyterian College campus, and judging from a near capacity crowd, people were ready to get back together.
The Chamber - and its 389 members - was playing catch-up, as the global pandemic kept people apart for the past two years. The State-Chamber-accredited organization was able to celebrate 245 business-partners, 82 networking events with 1,674 engaged participants, 467 leadership graduates since 1990, 117.8K newsletters sent, 475 feet of ribbon cut for new business openings, 1.35K community guides distributed, 32K reached on social media, 165 total credcentials awarded towards workforce devellopment - Laurens County Future Scholarship, and 4.6K website views via Chamber-managed sites.
The Feb. 10 event was fairly standard until the very end. As a surprise, emcee Mark Willis introduced a short video clip by the late King Dixon, former Chamber board chair, retired University of South Carolina athletics director and overall ambassador for Laurens County. Dixon’s words, as always, inspired the Chamber membership to continue its work into 2022 and beyond.
The Chamber presented awards in 8 categories including the new Keep Laurens County Beautiful Community Partner recognition, described in the program as an annual award to “recognize a business, organization, or individual exemplifying an ongoing commitment to a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful Laurens County. The recognition will be based on the Keep Laurens County Beautiful partnership program mission work of engaging the public in county-wide cleanups, recycling, and beautification efforts through impact, education, and enforcement.” The initial recipient is Clinton Canopy, a volunteer organization that has spearheaded beautification and parks development in the Clinton area. Its work includes small plaques that identify the plants that have been installed. Much of the group’s work has been in partnership within the Clinton High School Agriculture Department and the City of Clinton Public Works Department.
Nominated for the Robert M. Vance Small Business of the Year award were: -- First Quarter, Christie Finley, Southern Twist; -- Second Quarter, Haden Copeland, Allstate - The Copeland Agency; -- Third Quarter, Dr. Justin Snider & Mrs. Martha Ledda, ProHealth Center; and -- Fourth Quarter, Jim Firmin - Firmin Ford Inc., of Laurens which was named the overall winner. The award description says, in part, “This award is named after the late Clinton business member and industry leader Mr. Robert M. Vance and is presented to a Small Business showing commitment in the areas of community service, client relations, investment in employees, business ethics, and business improvement and growth.”
This was the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce’s 43rd Dinner & Awards presentation program. -- Photos by Vic MacDonald