Chamber rich with buzz all year
Aiken Chamber Chair Arthur W. “Buzz” Rich, Esq., values and appreciates Aiken’s rich culture and personality. He also enjoys the buzz that the Aiken Chamber generated in 2012 through its accomplishments.
The editor of the Commerce Report sat down with the outgoing chair to discuss his year at the Chamber’s helm.
What was 2012 like for the Aiken Chamber of Commerce?
It definitely was a busy year with numerous opportunities. We supported small business by growing our “Shop Aiken” campaign and by supporting Small Business Saturday. We also raised the Business Academy to the next level with timely programs, such as social media, smart phones, and applications; disaster recovery; and using The Cloud. And, we began convening member businesses and organizations with similar interests by hosting roundtables.
We completed two major equine initiatives – a comprehensive feasibility study for a multi-use international horse park in Aiken County and a collaboration on establishing the Greater Aiken Integrated Trails (GAIT) Foundation to support an integrated trail system and other recreational endeavors in Aiken County
We provided input on the City of Aiken’s draft Open Space Element that resulted in the document going back to the Planning Commission for further work.
And the Aiken Young Professionals have progressed this year, hosting two “5th Friday . . . Your Friends, Your Family, Your City!” community events and holding networking events and Lunch & Learns designed to nurture them as future leaders of our community.
What makes the Aiken Chamber of Commerce unique?
I think one of the attributes of the Aiken Chamber is that it is flexible in its approach to how it works to grow our economy and support business needs. The organization follows its program of work each year, but if a need or issue arises, the Chamber responds, like was the case with the City’s draft Open Space Element.
Where do you see the Chamber headed in the future?
I see the Chamber building upon its past successes and remaining steadfast in its mission of creating opportunities for members to build successful businesses and to enhance the quality of life.
I think the Chamber will continue to focus on timely initiatives, to monitor issues, and to pursue interests that impact our members and our community. At the same time, I see it continuing to look toward the horizon for opportunities for the Aiken of tomorrow.
Did you ever think your first order of business would be as a Blues Brother at the Chamber’s annual dinner last January?
Who knew? I always figured my acting career would be in front of a jury. Quite frankly, I’ve gotten more feedback from being a Blues Brothers and from dancing in Aiken’s Dancing with the Stars a few weeks ago than I’ve gotten in the last 30 years! I must say, though, I had two very different dance partners between the two performances.
What would you like to say about your year as Chair of the Chamber Board?
Well, I started and finished the year dancing, and I think that is a good thing because it speaks volumes about our Chamber. We have worked hard to fulfill our commitment to the business community, and it has been a pleasure working with our board who I feel has been exceptionally involved and engaged this year. The Chamber is so well run by David (Jameson) and the professional staff that I was able to look at the organization’s bigger picture. In closing, I appreciate everyone’s support this year. It has been an honor to serve our business community.
The buzz on Buzz
Arthur W. (Buzz) Rich has been involved with the Aiken Chamber for more than 30 years. He joined the organization as a member in 1981 when he left his father’s law practice and began his own practice.
He was elected to the Chamber’s board of directors in 1987 and served two terms from 1988 to 1993. Following his board service, he served in an ex-officio capacity for 17 years until he was elected as chair-elect in 2011 and subsequent chair in 2012.