Sun, May 19, 2024

Small but mighty Chamber

In a beloved children’s book, the Little Engine That Could famously said, “I think I can. I think I can.” There is an office in North Augusta where they say, “I know we can.”

The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce is the smallest of similar organizations serving businesses in metro Augusta. As 2023 was winding down, President and CEO, Terra Carroll sat down with Augusta Business Daily to reflect on the past 12 months and look ahead to 2024.

She said one of the most impactful things was to move the Chamber to offices in the North Augusta Community Center on E. Buena Vista Ave. It raised the Chamber’s profile among those who didn’t know the office existed.

“I think coming over and partnering with the city really gave us an opportunity to expose more folks to the Chamber, what we do, with the events that they have here at the community center. Plus, folks walking by our offices and like, ‘Oh, who are you? What do you do?’ So, it really allowed us to really reach out more into the community and share who we are, what we do, and how we impact our communities,” she said.

One unique challenge facing the North Augusta Chamber is attracting new businesses while protecting the small-town feel of the city’s downtown area. Mayor Britton Williams recently told ABD he feels it is important that property owners bring in the right mixture of tenants to continue revitalizing the downtown area.

Williams said a good example of the right mixture is the repurposing of the former Ming Yat building, which houses Shelia’s. He also highlighted the Orange Otter and Town Square Olive Oil and Wine. Orange Otter, a locally owned toy store, recently celebrated its one year anniversary on Georgia Ave. Town Square Olive Oil and Wine opened in late summer, just a few blocks away.

“It shows that we’re continuing to grow, that we’re a good community to start a business,” she said. “Not necessarily a franchise business that goes anywhere, but to be a community that people are willing to take the risk and start something that’s not anywhere else.”

Growth continues across North Augusta with the recently opened Chick-fil-A at exit five, Popeye’s being built near the I-20 intersection, and the soon-to-open Tru by Hilton hotel on Austin Graybill Road.

Carroll said looking ahead into 2024 the Chamber wants to keep living its motto, “Where Business and Community Meet” by promoting the needs of local business and industry while continuing to strengthen the community.

“Our goal going into 2024 is really just to network and showcase who we are as a Chamber of Commerce,” she explained. “Being a small organization with two employees that sits in the middle of a metropolitan area, sometimes it’s challenging for us to really show people that we’re worth the investment. We’re kind of a greater North Augusta Chamber. We have businesses on both sides of the river and we’re here to show off our businesses and what they have to offer. Hopefully, in doing that, it will allow them to grow and will allow our Chamber to grow as well.”

Carroll is working on two of the Chamber’s major events, the annual meeting and naming the 2023 Citizen of the Year. The meeting will be March 7 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.

Nominations for Citizen of the Year are being accepted at: www.northaugustachamber.org. The honoree will be named at the annual meeting.

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