Newly installed Chamber of Commerce chairman David Wilson said he wants members to know the organization is their friend.

Wilson, the 38-year-old vice president of Wilson Funeral Homes, assumed leadership of the Chamber’s board of directors on Jan. 8 at the Chamber’s annual meeting. He replaces former chairman Mark Sullivan, a vice president and senior commercial lender at Northwest Georgia Bank.

Wilson said as the county deals with an economy that is in a slump from previous years, the Chamber will be available to help businesses make the most of it.

He compared the Chamber’s relationship with its members to his own relationship with his father. Sometimes his father has already given him the tools to fix problems himself, just like the Chamber gives its members tools through resources and training, he said. At other times, a personal call is more appropriate.

“Just like I can call my dad (for help), you can call us,” he told his audience over lunch at the Colonnade.

Sullivan said one of the Chamber’s most notable accomplishments in 2008 was increasing membership by about 40 members to a total of more than 400.

“My intent is to stay active with the Chamber,” he said, noting that he plans to regularly attend board meetings and offer input and advice from his experience as a past chairman. Chairmen serve for one year.

Other Chamber accomplishments in 2008 included gaining an Entrepreneurial Friendly designation from state leaders, hosting a Candidates College and Candidates Debate for those running for office, creating and publishing a new tourism brochure that hadn’t been updated in several years, having the “best” Business Expo “ever” with more than 75 booths, and offering various other networking and learning opportunities, Sullivan said.

Both Sullivan and Wilson urged members to look for ways to take advantage of the Volkswagen plant being built in Chattanooga. The plant is scheduled to begin production in 2011. Surrounding counties, including Catoosa, are seeking ways to lure supply manufacturers. One issue key to bringing in more industry is having both cities and the county work toward unified goals, they said.

Looking ahead

The annual Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce Gala will be Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. The theme is “Bringing Back the Blues,” and the Alabama Blues Brothers are scheduled to perform. Cost is $65 per person or $500 for a table for eight.

Also at the annual meeting, officials unveiled a new logo for the Chamber. Business leaders at Ringgold Telephone Co. created the simple green design. Lynn W. Yates initiated the effort, and Todd Harless designed the logo.

Wilson said the new logo is a cost-saving mechanism. The old logo had multiple colors and the new logo has one – green. The large “C” in the logo symbolizes all-encompassing unity for the two cities and county.

“It’s less expensive to produce in one color,” Wilson said.

Chamber President Martha Eaker received high praise from both the incoming and outgoing chairmen for her work. However, she emphasized accomplishing the organization’s accomplishments require the effort of many.

“The Chamber is run by the volunteers,” she said.



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