Chamber marks good year, plans for a strong ’17

Published 9:59 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce closed out another year Tuesday of striving to make Vicksburg the best it can be.

Chamber president Lynn Foley handed off her leadership responsibilities to incoming president Mark Buys through theatrical song and dance that reflected on all the programs and services offered by the chamber. In her speech, Foley stated her goal during her presidency was to change public perception of Vicksburg and to be active in economic development in Vicksburg.

“I do believe we are taking steps to improve the perception of our community,” she said.

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By the numbers, Foley said in 2016 the chamber delivered 27 welcome baskets, recruited 73 new members — a 24 percent increase from the prior year bringing total membership to 437, and membership retention was at 92 percent.

The chamber and its members hosted 12 business afterhours events, 31 ribbon cuttings and recognized six people for outstanding customer service.

Foley mentioned each area the chamber has worked to improve the community through education with the Leader in Me to infrastructure, marking 20 years as a certified retirement community, hosting a job fair and working to develop a walking trial on the Old U.S. 80 Bridge, to name a few.

“So you can see we’ve had a very busy and exciting year accomplishing many of our goals set forth in our 2016 program of work. Our finances are in great shape. We entered the year with a balanced budget and actually finished the year ahead of budget,” Foley said.

She said she plans to continue her work for the community even without holding office.

“I believe we have really seen some phenomenal things begin, and I’m committed to seeing them all come to fruition,” she said.

Buys said he was thankful to his family, friends and coworkers for the opportunity to serve as president this year. He plans to continue Foley’s mission to support business and change perception of Vicksburg by encouraging everyone to speak positively about the community. One of his goals this year is to help secure a site for a new river port.

“We have so much to offer, and we are so blessed with the natural resources here and the quality of life,” Buys said.

He promised to serve with integrity and professionalism.

“I’m excited to serve with such a diverse and committee business leadership group in our community that will be serving as our 2017-2018 board of directors,” he said. 

Incoming board members are Tim Reeves, Billy Crozier, Shelia McKinnis, Carl Hearn, Don Brown and Gary Anderton. Leaving board members are Austin Golding, Greg Raimondo, Ruth Nichols, T.J. Tennison, Don Jarratt and Tom Kendall.

Ambassador of the Year was Kimberly Smith from The Lofts at First National. Small Business of the Year was Rowdy’s Family Restaurant. Large Business of the Year was Ameristar Casino and Hotel.