Tish Chase on Tuesday embraced her mission as director of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce by offering her assistance to chamber members and by promising to reach out to other businesses.
Chase, recently of Augusta, served nine years as executive director of the downtown development authority in Perry, Ga. She said that city of about 14,000 residents has a vibrant downtown and an excellent record in economic and commercial development.
The local chamber's board of directors voted Monday to offer the job to Chase, after interviews that day with the two finalists.
Chase said she wants to establish an improved relationship with the members, and "let them know that we are there to serve them." She said she also will visit other businesses and encourage them to join the chamber.
She said she hopes to expand chamber services by securing more grants and bringing more events.
Chase said Thomson has an excellent reputation across the state and she looks forward to building on that reputation. She said she will propose a list of quarterly events from which the chamber board may choose. She hopes to implement the first new event in September.
If anyone wants to meet with her, she said, she is available. "Just call me."
Bob Keith, the chamber treasurer and a member of the selection committee, said about 30 résumés were received from applicants in Thomson and across Georgia, and from points as distant as Rhode Island and Florida. "We haven't had a director in a year and we're very excited about having one," Keith said.
Selection committee members included chamber President Bonnie McCorkle, committee chairman Bobby Hildreth, Greg Derry, Ken Williams, interim director Mike Carrington, and Keith.
McCorkle said she and Chase would meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss strategy. She said she is counting on Chase's expertise in updating the chamber's Web site.
Carrington, who has doubled as interim director for the past year, oversees Forward McDuffie, the umbrella organization that encompasses the chamber and related organizations. He said operating without a director for a year has helped improve the chamber's financial standing. He said the chamber also gained from the Clear to Drift and the annual golf tournament, and he expects good returns from the weekend's Christmas celebration. "I'm excited," Carrington said. He said Chase's personality will help improve coordination within the membership.
Chase's older daughter lives in Augusta and has a 2-year-old daughter. Chase said her son-in-law is a Richmond County sheriff's deputy who was injured Sept. 28. Chase said she returned to the area four weeks ago to help her daughter and her family. Chase's younger daughter is a junior at Westside High School in Augusta.
Chase also attended Westside while growing up in Augusta. She worked for the Augusta Chamber of Commerce before taking an economic development job with the Fort Valley, Ga., Downtown Development Authority.
"I'm very pleased to be back home," she said.
She said she already feels welcome in Thomson. "It's quite charming and everyone seems quite wonderful," she said.
The chamber has been without a full-time director since Carolyn Gilbert's resignation, effective Jan. 31. Gilbert served in that role for 14 years.