At a hybrid virtual and in-person Annual Member Dinner, the Hanover Chamber of Commerce elected leaders for the coming year on Sept. 10.
Limited in-person seats were available to members so that the event could held in a safe and socially distanced way; virtual attendees were present on the big screen.
Though the Chamber’s Executive Committee typically rotates each year, the Nominating Committee proposed continuing the leadership team for a second year.
Nominating chair Kenny Janes said, “Rotating leaders keeps our board fresh and allows us to engage more leaders; a continuance has only occurred two to three times since our organization’s initiation in 1980. But 2020 has been a unique year and we felt this, if acceptable to our members, would allow for greater continuity throughout the pandemic. I was glad, though not completely surprised, that both Amanda (Porch) and Mark (Lea) agreed to continue in their executive roles.”
A unanimous vote secured the Chamber leadership team for 2020-2021 as Returning Board President: Amanda Porch of Village Bank, Returning Vice President: Mark Lea of Richweb Inc., Returning Past-President: Kenny Janes of UBS Financial Inc., and Serving as Treasurer: Cary Moore of Best Version Media.
Five new leaders also were welcomed to the 15-person Board of Directors — Barrie Bowers of FutureLaw II, Phil Englander of Hart Nissan, Jean Pollard of The Roberts Insurance Group, Laurie Ursiny of Hanover Habitat for Humanity, and Megan Underwood of Closet Factory.
In her remarks, Porch said she has been most proud of what the Chamber has been able to do in 2020 that wasn’t planned for; “Our Chamber is about more than just networking, and the past months truly speak to the full value of involvement.” When the pandemic hit in March, the Chamber’s focus immediately targeted gathering and sharing key information with the business community.
This began with timely emails with data and links to printable/downloadable mandates, guidelines and signage, funding updates, regional resources, and member updates. The Hanover Chamber was 1 of 25 regional organizations and localities to team up to create and distribute PPE Toolkits to help businesses reopen.
Personal Protection Equipment Toolkits included masks, gloves, sanitizer and signage; over 300+ were distributed in Ashland and Hanover, and over 2,000 regionally.
The Coalition Series, eight weeks of free webinars with local experts on succeeding through and out the pandemic, was the first programming of its kind in the area with coordinated effort from seven Hanover and Ashland business organizations (Hanover County Economic Development, Town of Ashland, Dominion Energy Innovation Center, Downtown Ashland Association, Market Ashland Partnership, Hanover Chamber and the Chamber’s Foundation). The first sessions were well-attended, and a fall series is in discussion.
The Chamber also worked with Hanover County Economic Development’s office and county leaders to ensure a business grant program was established to give aid to local businesses; the Chamber spoke in favor of the program to the Hanover County Board of Supervisors and was thrilled to see a 7-0 vote in favor of the Hanover Business Resiliency Grant Fund in June.
“Each of us —,individually and by company — have done our best to take on the change of 2020 one piece at a time. This is also true for the Hanover Chamber of Commerce,” said Chamber Executive Director Melissa Haley. “It has been strange to un-plan our iconic events and programs, but I’m glad to be able to serve our community in other ways. Hanover’s local businesses are so resilient and it’s our privilege to help support them any way we can.”