A look back to 1998
The Aiken Chamber is celebrating its centennial year in 2018. Each month in the Commerce Report we will take a short look back at its history. This month Teresa Haas, a former Chamber Chair looks back to 1998.
Twenty years ago, I had the honor of serving as the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors Chair. Just as it is today, the Aiken Chamber was a driving and powerful voice for businesses in our region in 1998.
A top priority for the 1998 Chamber Board of Directors was to initiate programs that would enhance Aiken’s existing business environment and attract new industries to the area. Programs such as promoting Aiken as an attractive destination city for tourism; advocating for new missions at SRS; and offering chamber members the opportunity to learn about exporting their products and services to international markets were just a few of the initiatives the Chamber was involved with then. We also celebrated Bridgestone Americas’ opening of its plant in Graniteville – their first new passenger tire facility in the U.S.
Without a doubt, the highlight of my year as Board Chair was construction of the new and beautiful Chamber building on Richland Avenue. Moving the Chamber from a small yellow house on upper Laurens Street to its current location was no small feat.
Countless businesses, organizations and individuals were responsible for making the new building possible. Leading the effort were: former Aiken Chamber President June Murff and the Chamber staff; Architect McDonald Law; and the Chambers’ Building Committee Tom Abbott, Wade Brodie, Tom Hallman, Doug Henderson, Jim Stewart, Gary Stooksbury and John Troutman.
Many of these people remain actively involved in the Aiken Chamber and business community today. This is a key reason why the Aiken Chamber is so successful. There is a direct correlation between strong business participation in a chamber to a healthy and prosperous business climate. Aiken is fortunate to have both: a vibrant Chamber of Commerce and business leaders who understand that connection and its importance to the overall health of our community.