What is a Chamber of Commerce?

A chamber of commerce is a local organization, formed by business owners, whose goal is to further the interests of businesses and advocate on behalf of the business community.

Chambers can function as local, regional, state, or national entities. There are even international chambers! The goals and interests of each Chamber will vary depending on the scale of their organization.

History

Chambers of commerce have a long history – dating back to the first chamber, founded in 1599, in Marseille, France. As several chambers across Europe and North America were established to benefit a flourishing business community in towns and cities across the globe, they began to grow from localized organizations to more national and even international groups. The Charleston Chamber of Commerce is one of the oldest in the United States, dating back to colonial 1773. That same year, the Boston Chamber of Commerce organized a vigorous tax protest: The Boston Tea Party. Chambers have always strived to represent business and economic interests!

Organizational Structure

Chambers of Commerce are considered not-for-profit organizations, structured around a governing Board of Directors. The President, CEO, or Executive Director as they’re sometimes called, reports directly to the Board of Directors. Our organization follows suit and elects a Board of Directors to oversee the Chamber and its initiatives. This group of volunteers is determined by self-nominations or recommendations from fellow members on a rotating basis of three-year terms. The Directors then elect a Board Chair who continues to steer the organization along the pathway to success. The Board Chair’s responsibilities include attending most, if not all, Chamber events and leading meetings of the Board of Directors. Since the Chamber’s inception in 1970, the roster of Past Chairs has continued to include Cherokee County’s best of the best.

The organization’s Executive Committee, led by the Board Chair, is comprised of various positions held by Board members. These include the Chair Elect, Immediate Past Chair, and the three Divisional Vice Chairs: Community Relations, Business & Economic Stability, and Member Services.

Chambers of Commerce also have an internal team that provides the backbone for how the Chamber operates. Our Cherokee County Chamber staff includes the President & CEO, Pam Carnes, GCCE; Vicky Tucker, Senior Vice President – Operations; Paula Williams, Vice President – Communications; Gini Mizelle, Vice President – Events; Kaylee Dempsey – Engagement & Event Specialist; Jenna Geary, Membership Manager; Katie Wheeler, Marketing Manager; and Christin Becker, Programs Manager. The organization’s tourism initiative is coordinated by Angela McDaniel. You’ll often see our staff members at Chamber events welcoming attendees, grabbing social media content, and engaging with our current and future members.

What They Do

Since a Chamber of Commerce serves to represent the interests of businesses and the local economy, these organizations create opportunities for networking, governmental advocacy, and economic growth. We do this by offering programs that help promote leadership, like Leadership Cherokee and Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch; by providing in-person and online workshops through L.A.B.S. for Learning; or by hosting opportunities for businesspeople to engage on a regular basis like Good Morning Cherokee, Business After Hours, Power Hour, and more. The Chamber works to represent and promote local businesses through ribbon cuttings, new member welcomes, and marketing opportunities. The Chamber creates ways for you to promote your organization, such as SchmoozaPalooza, initiatives focused on developing a strong workforce through Work Readiness Wednesday, and connections with the next generation of leaders through eighth grade career fairs and Lemonade Day.

These are just a few of the many programs, events, and initiatives that are coordinated by the Chamber benefitting Cherokee County’s current and future businesses. Whether you’re interested in educational programs, leadership development, networking, or community involvement, there is an opportunity for you at our Chamber.

About Us

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce was founded over 50 years ago and is a highly proactive and visible influence in Cherokee County. While most of our member businesses have ten or less employees, the Chamber provides a forum for businesses of all sizes and types. The mission of the Chamber is to promote business to expand the economy and enrich the community. The Chamber’s vision is to be the Cherokee County business community’s trusted source for comprehensive resources.

We are an active, viable organization serving more than 1,100 members through professional and personal development opportunities while promoting a strong, vigorous economic climate in Cherokee County. Not only do we create an atmosphere for new business growth in our county, but we also strive to ensure our existing businesses thrive and that newcomers and visitors recognize what Cherokee County has to offer.

The staff provides many services and resources — some of these are available to the public, others to Chamber members. Business and community leaders volunteer hundreds of hours each year, reviewing challenges, seeking solutions, and exploring new ideas together — to make Cherokee County a progressive, prosperous, and eminently livable community.

The Chamber and its staff are also actively involved with organizations such as the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the US Chamber of Commerce. Each of these professional entities provide support to Chambers and businesses alike.