If you're lucky enough to live in Aiken...
If you have spent any time with J. David Jameson, you know the next three words of that quote – "you're lucky enough."
The President/CEO of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce has made that line not only his own, but the community's as well.
For the past 10 years, Jameson has headed the organization whose primary missions are to look out for the interests of the business community and to undertake a major leadership role in the overall well being of Aiken.
One person, however, does not make an enterprise a success. The Chamber, through its member volunteers, has developed a system of leadership that allows for a continuing program of work for long-term issues and the opportunity to add new programs as needed.
Each year a few members of the Chamber's Board of Directors rotate off and new volunteers are called to replace them. This practice allows for fresh ideas and new perspectives to be combined with the institutional knowledge held by existing Board members. That gives the Chamber leadership the ability to guide a course to the future based on a successful past.
Over the past decade the Chamber's members and the community at large have benefited from a practice of thinking long-term rather than one year at a time. Projects are carefully planned with significant time to assess needs and ways to proceed rather than jumping headlong into action.
As in erecting a new building, the direction of the Chamber's programs requires the construction of a solid foundation, often unseen when the structure is complete. The efforts that follow stand on stable ground.
The list on this page shows many of the accomplishments of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce over the past 10 years. The list is extensive thanks to the willingness of volunteers and staff to form a partnership to make better the community in which they live and work. Some of the accomplishments continue from year to year and have become basic responsibilities for the organization.
"These achievements of the past 10 years tell me that members, old and new, value our current direction of meeting their short-term needs while preparing for Aiken's economy of the future," Jameson said.
The Chamber leadership is committed to five core areas with its program of work:
- - Leadership and Impact
- - Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
- - Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
- - Business Training and Education
- - Fiscal Integrity and Operations
With these concepts in mind, the Board of Directors will continue to lead the business community and the people of Aiken for the decade to come and beyond.
Decade of Accomplishments
- > New President/CEO recruited
- > $80 million for SRS operations budget secured through trip to D.C.
- > Aiken's Makin' held its 30th annual event
- > Chamberfest – A Festival of Commerce launched
- > Accreditation received from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- > Chamber reached milestone of 1,000 members
- > Annual Meeting restructured to feature entertainment and awards
- > First Friday Means Business monthly business breakfast and program launched
- > Savannah River National Laboratory Blue Ribbon Panel created
- > Retention of young professionals in the area targeted by Blue Ribbon Panel
- > First State of Our Community luncheon held
- > Aiken's Makin' re-tooled as a high quality arts and crafts show
- > Women in Business series created
- > Equine Industry Task Force set up to see if Chamber and members are providing appropriate goods and services for the industry
- > Dialogue initiated between education and business to provide new partnering ideas
- > Aiken Young Professionals (AYP) initiative started
- > Information provided to members on House District 81 candidates
- > Chamber-commissioned study showed the annual economic impact of equine industry was $71.8 million
- > Bluetooth for eight Aiken County ambulances funded after Chamber raised $20,000 for life-saving technology
- > Blue laws for Aiken County suspended by Aiken County Council following collaborative campaign between Aiken and North Augusta chambers
- > Recommendations from Chamber incorporated in City of Aiken's proposed Highway Overlay District design
- > Top 10 for Excellence in Membership recognized during past year from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives
- > Equine Steering Committee created
- > Gift cards given to new teachers to help jump-start their classroom preparation
- > AYP grew from 100 to 230 members in one year
- > AYP strategic plan completed
- > School bond referendum supported to alert members to educational needs in county. (Bond effort was unsuccessful)
- > Equine trails totaling 600 miles identified and mapped
- > Aiken's Makin' footprint revamped
- > Shop Aiken campaign initiated and continues
- > Business Academy started to help business grow and thrive
- > New website launched
- > Space in Chamber building allocated for SRS Heritage Foundation office
- > Accreditation with 5-star status achieved by Chamber
- > Small Business Saturday started on Saturday after Thanksgiving
- > International Horse Park for Aiken County white paper released
- > MOX funding at SRS supported
- > H Canyon funding for SRS supported
- > Chamber ranked among top three for its size nationwide for excellence in communication
- > Aiken's Makin' earned four Stars of the Carolinas excellence awards from the South Carolina Festival and Events Association
- > International Horse Park feasibility study completed
- > Hitchcock Parkway funds of $13.5 million given to City of Aiken by State Infrastructure Bank following six years of collaborative efforts between Chamber, City and Aiken County – project abandoned by City of > > Aiken and funds returned in 2014
- > Chamber's Bridgestone Leadership Room named in recognition of company's $1.2 billion investment in off-road radial tire facility
- > Shop Aiken campaign continued with emphasis on shopping locally for gifts, services and dining
- > Next Big Ideas Blue Ribbon Panel established to seek ways to add quality of life and/or economic value to Aiken area
- > The “voice of business” grew significantly when 234 businesses joined the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce during its Membership Event - Chamber membership exceeded 1,100.
- > Economic vitality initiatives announced with Aiken Technical College and Midland Valley Preparatory School, Caradasa LLC and USC Aiken, and Sam’s Club and Greater Aiken Integrated Trails
- > Young Entrepreneurs Academy launched – first in the state
- > One-cent sales tax referendum for school construction passed with strong support from Chamber
- > Benchmarking process started to produce baseline data for fact based decision making
- > 100 Days to Make a Difference Steering Committee started to implement ideas in benchmarking report
- > Five-year evolving plan started for the long-term prosperity of Aiken
- > Five-year evolving plan continued with a goal of leading to community prosperity through taking risk, rewarding success and growing families
- > Aspirational Cities Tour took business and community leaders to Greenville, S.C., Winston-Salem and Raleigh, N.C., to learn about successes in those cities
- > Benchmarking process continues for third year
- > Young Entrepreneurs Academy resumes
- > Aspirational cities for 2017 tour being determined