Interview with Highland Chamber Of Commerce Executive Director Josh Umar Pt.1

Time flies when you’re having fun – like when you’re Josh Umar, and you’ve been named Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

“Well, it’s been six months since I took that position, and I wanted to come and give the community an update on what’s going on, what we’ve done. We’ve been working hard and there’s been a lot of accomplishments and improvements in a pretty short time. Some of them have been obvious, I think – we moved the office back into The Highland Center; we’ve been able to expand our office hours, and be quite a bit more accessible than we were before; and as people are well aware, we ran Hands and Harvest and Wintertide and were able to have Santa back in The Highland Center where we think it worked a little bit easier.

“So those are the things that you see on the surface. However, a lot of what I’ve been working on, and most of the improvement, has come in areas where it’s a little bit hard to see. For instance, I’ve completed a complete tech overhaul of the office- all of the computers, software printers. Everything is now up to date, so that we can be a lot more efficient in the office work that we do for our members. I’ve organized the annual membership drive, which many of you know just completed. But more important than that, I did a redesign of our membership database that’s going to allow us to do a much better job at being responsive, and making sure that we’re talking to all of our members regularly.

“We’ve done an update to the Highland Comprehensive Plan that increases our commitment to the county, and our commitment to work with other organizations like the EDA, Tourism Council, The Highland Center. We have conducted review of our insurance policies, you know, just making sure that we’re behaving and operating as a professional organization would. Time keeping procedures are a lot more transparent, more accurate now. If a member calls me and says, ‘Josh, you know, what did you do last week to earn your paycheck?’, I want to be able to tell them,  and I can do that now within about a quarter of an hour. We’ve got a budget that I think I’m really proud of – we’re operating as good stewards of the funding that we have, and of the membership dues that we have.

“And then finally, we’ve begun to just re-establish some relationships, and be present in the community in a more consistent way. So, you know, going to the fair association meetings, going to Arts Council meetings, you know those kinds of things and just making sure that people have an opportunity to speak with us.”

Speaking of speaking with the Chamber-

“To set up an appointment or to talk with me about joining the Chamber, please do contact me. My phone number is 540-468-2550, and I can also be reached by email at”

Stay tuned for more of my conversation with Mr. Umar.

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.

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