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Letter to the Editor

New life at the chamber

Duncan Gardiner Versailles

Editor, The Sun There is a new sense of energy that I see in the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce that I haven’t seen for years. I’ve been a member of the chamber since 1993 and in my early years, it served as a vibrant organization highly effective at promoting small business and encouraging relationship building. I remember packed rooms for monthly lunches and the annual golf tournament as the premier golf scramble of the year. Over the years the chamber seemed to lose its way by focusing on state and national issues and concentrating less on promoting local business. Relationships seemed to be valued less and over the years many business owners and organizations disengaged. Within the last year though, despite the limitations from COVID, the chamber has taken on new life. This I believe is mainly due to the chamber board’s wise decision to hire Emily Downey earlier this year. As the president and CEO of the chamber, Emily brings energy, innovation, but most of all a sincere desire to build relationships within the business community. She has an impressive background having worked for a large corporation with a national and international reach, yet she’s chosen to take a job in her hometown for an organization that offers no upward mobility and most likely a significant cut in pay. I suspect more quality time with family and serving her community was at the heart of that decision. Emily loves to connect people and she has that rare gift of giving you her full attention when you meet with her. Her ability to build bridges and effectively communicate the benefits of chamber membership have, in my opinion, led to this turnaround. Last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in the annual Chamber Golf Scramble that quite frankly has languished over the years. This year they had 32 teams in attendance, the maximum that is usually allowed. I haven’t seen this many teams in decades. It was great to see the energy out at the beautiful Woodford Club and to see local people interacting with other locals. This is the chamber that I remember as a young businessman and the reason for my renewed optimism. My round took five hours because of all the teams. What a great problem to have!

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