Last updated: July 22. 2014 2:27PM - 487 Views
By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

Chairman Steve Owings of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce is pushing to increase membership over the next year by a minimum of 10 percent.
Chairman Steve Owings of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce is pushing to increase membership over the next year by a minimum of 10 percent.
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The new head of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce said it’s vital for the business chamber to increase its membership over the course of the next year by a minimum of 10 percent.

“I believe I would be satisfied if we get about a 10- to 15-percent increase,” said Chairman Steve Owings, who also is the proprietor of State Farm Insurance.

The Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce has 292 registered members.

Owings was ushered in as chairman for the chamber last Thursday. According to chamber bylaws, the chairman position alternates annually. Owings replaced Jerry Stroud of Duke Energy, who replaced Dr. Randy Bledsoe of Elkin City Schools.

“In preparing to be the chair, I have done a lot of research in numbers… Though we are seeing signs of growth to our area in business, we have not seen a rise in membership. That means we have not seen growth in our revenue. So for us to continue to add value to the Yadkin Valley, we need to continue to grow and pull in business,” said Owings. “I feel like it’s going to take all of us as a group to be committed to growing a chamber.”

Becoming a Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce member is as low as $150 for a new business. However, for Owings, members must feel connected to what they’re receiving.

“I think we have to show value to the business owner,” said Owings. “They have to get something for what they’re paying. It’s important for us to keep adding value. A push under Randy (Bledsoe) and Jerry (Stroud) has been to strengthen the members and give opportunities to network. That’s a value. They’ve been enormously helpful and supportive of the chamber. Now it’s time for us to pull it all together and recruit.”

“Considering all of the benefits that come with the membership, it’s a great value,” said Misty Matthews, who handles vital administrative functions for the chamber. “From newsletters to networking to monthly meetings, the people who are most successful are the one’s who are most active. Seeing people at chamber events is a constant reminder of the business they’re in. It’s how referrals happen.”

According to Owings, the board meetings are always open to the entire membership. “We take care of internal business at the very beginning of the meeting. Then newer folks may talk about their business and services they provide. We always have a special presenter at meetings. It’s a welcoming environment.”

Chamber meetings are held at the Fairfield in and Suites on CC Camp Road and will resume on the second Thursday of each month beginning in September. The lunch meeting starts at noon and all attendees are asked to confirm by calling the chamber at 336-526-1111.

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.

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