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2017 Annual Review
Highlights of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce’s yearly activities
The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit association that works to make the Cabell and Wayne County area a better place to live and do business. Our Chamber actively promotes area member businesses, works on community and regional issues, and advocates for business on governmental and legislative issues.
The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce actively supported the Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017. Joining with the West Virginia Chamber, Charleston Area Chamber, and other groups, our Chamber encouraged its members and fellow West Virginians to vote for better roads and jobs through the passage of the Amendment. On October 7, 2017, the Roads to Prosperity Amendment passed by a large margin, especially in Cabell and Wayne Counties. Moving forward, this highway infrastructure program will bring an investment of more than $3 billion to West Virginia.
The Chamber presented a Discussion on Tax Reform with U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins in November. The Congressman scheduled this special meeting to discuss with local business owners the proposed tax reform legislation that subsequently passed into law.
In June, our Chamber led a delegation to Washington, DC, that met with our Congressional Delegation at their offices. This valuable time with elected leaders and their staff allowed Chamber members to share their thoughts and positions on current issues, as well as hear directly from Congressional Leaders on how they can further help our region and compliment the mission of the Chamber. Part of this trip included meetings with the United States Chamber and taking part in Marshall University’s annual State of the University event at the Newseum.
The Chamber hosted a 2017 Safer Workplaces Act seminar in July, presented by Toney Stroud of BrickStreet Insurance. This free workshop updated business leaders on legislative changes and addressed business concerns. In October, the Chamber hosted a seminar focusing on the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, presented by Chris Slaughter of Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC. This workshop addressed the significant changes in employee relations under the Right to Work law. These free seminars offered valuable information for business leaders.
The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Generation Huntington committee announced two new recipients of their joint Marshall University scholarship in 2017. Alexis James-Joyce of Huntington was awarded a $1,000 scholarship toward her pursuit of a graduate degree. James-Joyce is employed at the Prestera Center as a Case Manager and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Marshall. Lakin Bailey of Huntington was awarded a $1,000 scholarship toward her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Bailey is employed at Prime on 4th and is a volunteer at the Woodlands Retirement Community. The Chamber and Generation Huntington award scholarships annually to Marshall University students.
Throughout 2017, 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 2017 included: Entrepreneurship Initiatives presented by RCBI; Huntington’s Residential Real Estate Market presented by Realty Exchange; Tobacco Awareness & Cessation presented by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department; LED Technology presented by W.Va. Electric Supply Company; Goodwill’s Programs & Services presented by Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area; Women in Leadership presented by Amazon.com; Preparing Your Business for an Emergency Situation presented by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department; Avoiding Everyday Technology Disasters presented by Netranom Communications; and How Personal Finances Can Impact Small Business Lending presented by Fifth Third Bank.
The Chamber continued to strengthen its Manufacturers’ Roundtable platforms which are now presented in both Cabell and Wayne Counties. The Roundtables 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 Sixth Annual Business After Hours Trade Show, presented by Huntington Banks, continued to expand in 2017, hosting a sold out exhibit space and an increase in attendees. The Trade Show was set to a Rock and Roll theme with iHeart Media serving as a Gold Sponsor of the event. More than 70 regional businesses were featured with numerous prize drawings and giveaways. The Trade Show provides a valuable opportunity for business owners and their employees to gain new business contacts and customers while promoting their goods and services.
The Chamber partnered with GeoSyntec Consultants in October to present former NASA Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger to more 1,000 students at Cabell Midland High School, Huntington High School, and Marshall University students. Metcalf-Lindenburger was selected by NASA as a Mission Specialist in May 2004. She served as the Astronaut Office Station Branch twig lead for systems and crew interfaces. In 2010, she was a mission specialist on the crew of STS-131 and logged more than 362 hours in space. After her space flight, she worked as a Cape Crusader for the final three shuttle missions. She also supported the Astronaut Office Station Operation Branch as a lead for the provisions, manifests, and stowage twig. In June 2012, Metcalf-Lindenburger commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16. She retired from NASA in 2014, and currently lives and works in the Seattle area. A special reception was hosted at the Arthur Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex at Marshall.
The Chamber collaborated with the City of Huntington, Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Cabell County Assessor’s Office in September to host a Welcome Event for new residents in the area. Local government agencies, organizations, and healthcare providers exhibited at the event to provide information on important community services. The success of the inaugural Welcome Event, has led to the creation of an annual presentation which will be increased in 2018 to offer the opportunity for more businesses and organizations to participate.
Generation Huntington, the Chamber’s committee for young professionals, hosted a slate of speakers in 2017 to educate and inspire members. Speakers included West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, and Metropolitan Partners Developer Bill Dargusch. 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 added a new recognition event to its slate of promotions with the creation of Retail Week presented in June. Retail Week spotlighted 15 local retailers to increase traffic and encourage local shopping. The committee also presented its annual Restaurant Week which incorporates 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 Auto, on Dec. 9, 2017. The parade featured more than 70 participants and attractions. 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 2016, Kevin J. Craig of Natural Resource Partners L.P. was the recipient. A long-standing board member and former Chairman of the Board in 2015, Craig led the Chamber’s Airport Review Committee and is instrumental in planning the Annual Energy & Natural Resource Symposium. The event was presented by BrickStreet Insurance and Southwestern Energy with additional sponsorship from Cabell Huntington Hospital, Community Trust Bank, and St. Mary’s Medical Center. Various 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 2017 to promote professional development and community involvement. Events included: Let’s Get Organized; An Evening at The Pottery Place; Summer Networking; and the Annual Holiday Social which served as a fundraising event for Branches Domestic Violence Shelter. The committee works to identify women leaders in the region and provide networking opportunities to increase professional growth.
The Chamber maintains a close partnership with numerous educational and economic development entities, including Marshall University, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Advantage Valley, KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission, Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO), and Tri-State Airport.
Programming & Events
Frontier Communications presented the Chamber’s 126th Annual Dinner in April, featuring Keynote Speaker U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Senator Capito serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Environmental and Public Works Committee, the Rules and Administration Committee, and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in the U.S. Senate. The event was presented to a sold out audience at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
The Chamber coordinated a 2017 Healthcare Symposium in November presented by Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center. The event drew over 100 healthcare professionals and business leaders to the presentation of “State of the Union—The Next Wave of Healthcare Reform: Repeal, Replace, or Repair? Adapting Provider Strategy for the Post-ACA Era.” Stuart Clark, Managing Director and a national spokesperson for Advisory Board served as the Keynote Speaker.
Networking opportunities play a vital role in connecting Chamber Members. In 2017, Business After Hours events were hosted by: Guyan Golf & Country Club, Beltone Hearing Aid Center, and Mountwest Community & Technical College. 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 2017 were: Jared Colker, president of W.Va. Electric Supply Company; Ralph Hagy, owner of La Famiglia LLC; Troy Thomas, general manager of Allevard Sogefi USA, Inc.; Shintaro Takase, Japanese Outreach Coordinator at Marshall University; and Dr. Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall University.
Throughout the year, numerous companies offered exclusive discounts to Chamber Members through the Chamber Advantage Discount Program. These discounts allow members to promote their products and services while also engaging in business to business marketing with fellow members. Companies offering discounts in 2017 were: Adena Marketing; Brand Yourself, Connect Hearing, Enterprise Rent A Car, Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant, Fruth Pharmacy, Honey Baked Ham Co. & Café, Huntington Symphony Orchestra, Huntington YMCA, Network Innovation Solutions, Office Depot, Saad’s Oriental Rugs, Snap Fitness, The Herald-Dispatch, and Walls & Associates PLLC.