Highland Chamber Taps Other Resources

We recently spoke with Executive Director Dorothy Stephenson on changes regarding the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. In Part 1 of the story, she spoke about the reasoning for the relocation of the Chamber office – in Part 2, she talks about how partnering with different organizations to assist with activities which were once exclusively the domain of the Chamber works for the betterment of everyone.

“Historically, the Chamber of Commerce has been in charge of member benefits, Chamber of Commerce business development, as well as tourism. Here, for the longest time, the Chamber took care of both Chamber responsibilities and tourism marketing and initiatives. Being the Executive Director of both the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Council, which is common in other localities – there are actually directors of Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and EDA are all the same people – but, those other localities usually have a staff of at least four people, if not more, part-time and full time. I have myself, and a part-time employee, who is awesome, but the reality of it is is that there’s more work to be done than one and a half people can do.

“Now, in the past couple years, we’ve developed the Highland Tourism Council, and they are starting to take over all of the tourism marketing. Their mission is to be the body that markets Highland County as a tourism destination. So, while the Chamber historically had all of those responsibilities, we’re now in a very big re-organization phase where the Chamber is handing over tourism marketing to the Tourism Council, as well as other projects or initiatives that are tourism based.

“Another responsibility historically that the Chamber of Commerce had, we were in charge of relocation packets, and people would submit requests for these relocation packets, and we were not able to stay on top of it like we should have. The Highland Center, and Josh Umar at The Highland Center, who is amazing, he is actually our resident recruitment representative now, and he has taken that to a whole new level. Josh is doing an amazing job with that, and is doing so much more with it than the Chamber and I could have, because that is one of his main focuses.

“There are a lot of other people in the county, great people to head up projects, people that are passionate about the county, and people that want to help. We want to be able to involve people and let people take ownership in what we’re doing  – reach out to the public and the people that want to help, because we do need help. It’s not just about one person or one board – it’s one community and people working together, and there are better ideas, there are more ideas out there. Having multiple people being involved and actively helping and actively sharing ideas and actively communicating, that’s what we want. That’s where the success is, that’s where we can be most efficient, and that’s what we’re looking towards.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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