As we welcome in a new year, I am very proud of the progress of our Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority (JDA) made in 2018 as well as the community as a whole. I am also very excited to see what 2019 holds!
The Chamber has grown by over 25% in membership this year under the leadership of Kim Smith as Chairman and Sonya Miller as President. The Chamber is a member organization that is dedicated to growing jobs and business in the community. I have to admit, before I started working with the Chamber of Commerce in Coffee County in 2010, I really had no clue what the purpose of a Chamber was. We get a lot of calls at the Chamber requesting information and we promote our member businesses.
We began our year by honoring some very deserving individuals and companies at our Annual Event in February. Our Small Business of the Year was Jeb’s Chokes, our Industry of the Year was McPherson Manufacturing and our Entrepreneur of the Year was Darrell Beasley.
The Chamber also hosted numerous networking opportunities for our members including Chamber Connect luncheons, Business After Hours events, and ribbon cuttings. Many people compare Chamber membership to membership in a gym: if you don’t utilize it, you can’t expect results! Networking with other Chamber members allows business owners to effectively market their products and services. After all, people do business with people and the more you put your business name out there, the more positive response you will see.
The Chamber & JDA have also partnered with the Jeff Davis County School System to help plan two Career Expos for high school students as well as tours of Coastal Pines Technical College and local industries, showcasing the kinds of jobs that are available locally. We view workforce development as one of our top priorities!
One of the most important things we can work on as an entire community is leadership development. Our JD Forward program to help develop leaders will kick off Jan. 24. I hope our businesses and organizations understand how vital it is to have a community full of educated and effective leaders. The JD Forward program will help participants understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in our community. We have room for several more participants so please contact us if interested.
I am very proud to represent Hazlehurst and Jeff Davis County on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. It is so important to stay connected on a state level so that we can take advantage of any state programs that may become available for the benefit of our community.
As always, contact us at the Chamber & JDA if you have questions about anything community related. We are glad to share information or just provide you with a phone number!
Thanks for your time,
Andrea Taylor, JDA CEO