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2016 Annual Review
Highlights of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce’s yearly activities

Government Representation

An annual set of Core Legislative Values helped to guide the Chamber’s governmental focus throughout the year. The key areas of concentration to economic growth and development in our region for 2016 included: Business Mandates; Legal Reform; Economic Development; Health Care; Environment; Education; Energy; Taxes; and Public Policy. The Chamber’s Board of Directors concentrated on various issues within these fields and addressed concerns with local and state legislators.

BrickStreet Insurance presented the Chamber’s Annual “A View from the Capitol” legislative event in September. The discussion focused on the state budget and the impact it will have on the business community. The panel of featured speakers was comprised of: Secretary of Revenue Robert S. Kiss; West Virginia Senator Mike Hall, Senate Finance Chair; Delegate Eric Nelson, House Finance Chair; Senator Bob Plymale and Delegate Carol Miller. Additional sponsors were Appalachian Power and First Sentry Bank.

HuntPAC, the political action committee of the Huntington Regional Chamber, endorsed a full slate of candidates for both the Primary and General Elections of 2016 with the majority of endorsed candidates capturing their respective seats. The HuntPAC Steering Committee utilizes many sources of information to determine which candidates best represent the business community. These include detailed candidate surveys as well as personal interviews. HuntPAC also supported the Cabell County Excess Levy.

Workforce Development

Throughout 2016, the Chamber continued to offer a variety of free Lunch & Learn seminar sessions to provide members of the business community with additional opportunities for business training. Topics presented in 2016 included: How to Get Your Story on the Air presented by WOWK TV13; Safe Document Storage presented by Netranom Communications; Workplace Wellness presented by Snap Fitness; Utilizing Social Media presented by Bulldog Creative Services; Print Advertising for Your Business presented by The Herald-Dispatch; How to Get a Return on Business Networking presented by ComAssist; Understanding the Assessor’s Website presented by Cabell County Assessor Irv Johnson; and Small Business Lending presented by Fifth Third Bank.

In 2016, the Chamber launched LeadStrong, a leadership development series providing valuable skills to area professionals to enhance the business community. LeadStrong, an eight-week series, was presented March through June and awarded over 30 certifications following its inaugural class. Topics included: Essential Communication Skills; Essential Leadership Skills; Resolving Conflict; Managing Complaints; Effective Discipline; Delegating; Development Performance Goals and Standards; and Providing Performance Feedback.

In 2016, the Chamber expanded its Manufacturers’ Roundtable platform into Cabell County. A Manufacturers’ Roundtable had previously been successfully developed for Wayne County. The Roundtables were established to bring together manufacturing based businesses to discuss workforce succession planning, improved technical workforce training and employee recruitment strategies.  The ongoing meetings for both groups will continue to focus on workforce initiatives and address the needs of regional manufacturing companies.

The Chamber’s Fifth Annual Business After Hours Trade Show, presented by Huntington Banks, continued to expand in 2016, hosting a sold out exhibit space and an increase in attendees. More than 70 regional businesses were featured with numerous prize drawings and giveaways. The Trade Show provides an opportunity for business owners and their employees to gain new business contacts and customers while promoting their goods and services.

Community Development

Generation Huntington, the Chamber’s committee for young professionals, continues to progress on the development of a mural on the Harris Riverfront Park floodwall through a process called reverse graffiti. The process requires the use of large-scale stencils featuring an artistic design and then power-washing the floodwall to imprint the mural. No chemicals are used the process. The templates for the murals are being produced at the Robert C. Byrd Institute in coordination with Brand Yourself. The murals will feature images of a train, riverboat and the park on the floodwall facing Veterans Memorial Boulevard between Eighth and 12th Streets. Generation Huntington hosted several speakers throughout the year to educate and inspire committee members, including: Mayor Steve Williams; Huntington Area Development Council President and CEO David Lieving; and Bill and Christine Dargusch of Pullman Square developer Metropolitan Partners. The leadership of Generation Huntington works to provide young professionals with social and business programs to develop professional skills, promote their businesses, and gain access to community leaders.

The Chamber’s Downtown Live Committee expanded its annual Restaurant Week to incorporate all of Cabell County, featuring Chamber Member restaurants in celebration of local dining. The committee produced a series of radio broadcasts to promote Small Business Saturday, as well as a Shop Local for the Holidays campaign. Downtown Live also organized and directed the Annual Huntington’s Christmas Parade of Lights, presented by Dutch Miller Kia, on Dec. 5, 2016. The Downtown Live Committee and its events are sponsored by the City of Huntington and the Cabell County Commission.

In January, the Chamber recognized its Volunteer of the Year for 2015. Christopher L. Slaughter of Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC was the recipient. A long-standing board member and former Chairman of the Board in 2009, Slaughter was the leading force in helping the Chamber to create and establish its Young Professionals Committee, now known as Generation Huntington. The event was presented by iHeart Media, Allied Logistics and Southwestern Energy. Additional awards were presented to recognize volunteers who dedicated their time assisting the Chamber with its projects, programming, and mission.

Women 2 Women, the Chamber’s committee for professional women, sponsored by Somerville & Company, P.L.L.C. presented a variety of programming in 2016 to promote professional development and community involvement. Events included an exclusive luncheon with Marshall University President Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert and MU First Lady Leigh Gilbert, which was also attended by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Other events included an Identity Theft Prevention workshop, women’s health seminars, culinary workshop at Huntington’s Kitchen, and the Annual Holiday Social at The Cellar Door. The committee works to identify women leaders in the region and provide networking opportunities to increase professional growth.

Programming & Events

West Virginia American Water presented the Chamber’s 125th Annual Dinner in April, featuring Keynote Speaker Chris Stirewalt, a Political Editor for Fox News Channel in Washington, D.C. West Virginia American Water celebrated its 130th anniversary at the event. The Barnes Agency created a special video which was broadcast at the dinner to honor the legacy of the Huntington Regional Chamber.
Natural Resource Partners L.P. presented the Chamber’s 12th Annual Energy & Natural Resource Symposium in December. The 2016 symposium focused on “The Critical Connection Between Energy, Healthcare, and Infrastructure,” and featured a full panel of industry speakers – Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association; Maribeth Anderson, director of government and community relations for Southwestern Energy; Kevin N. Fowler, President and CEO of Cabell Huntington Hospital; and Colonel Philip M. Secrist III, District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Networking opportunities play a vital role in connecting Chamber Members. The Chamber continues to host a quarterly New Member Breakfast series to help new members make business contacts and learn more about membership benefits. In 2016, the traditional and popular Business After Hours events were hosted by: Huntington’s Kitchen, Guyan Golf and Country Club, Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington Junior College, and Creative Kitchens. City National Bank hosted the Annual Holiday Business After Hours in December.

The Chamber’s informative Coffee & Conversation series, sponsored by Community Trust Bank, provides a unique experience to learn more about regional businesses, including how the company was formed, business growth as well as challenges, and much more. Speakers in 2016 were: Carl R. Agusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind; Mark Morgan, CEO of HIMG Ultimate Health Services, Inc., Tim Forth, president of Forth Foods, Inc.; and Louis Weisberg, president of Service Wire Co. Also featured were two generations representing C.I. Thornburg Co., Inc. – CEO Jeffrey Morrison; President Ed Morrison; General Manager Mary Beth Anderson; and IT System Administrator Eddie Morrison.