I’m sure that by now everyone who’s interested has read The Inter-Mountain’s staff reporter Carra Higgins’ excellently written account of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce annual awards and dinner on Tuesday evening. As she reported, it was a showstopper.
In addition to the several prestigious awards presented to members of our community — all of which were well deserved — there are two others that deserve special recognition as well; the two ladies that did the majority of the work organizing and executing the countless details involved in making the evening the unqualified success it was — ERCCC Executive Director Ellen Spears and President Kathy Leombruno.
I do not mean to diminish the accomplishments of past executive directors and presidents, but the two leaders now at the helm of the organization are “the best there’s ever been.” Their attitudes toward seeing to the success of the chamber and making it a useful tool, not only to those that belong but to every business in the county and community, are second-to-none. To date, Spears has been unquestionably successful in engaging speakers for the quarterly and annual dinners that have had something to say to the community that was both prophetic and entertaining. Additionally, membership has grown exponentially.
Under Leombruno’s leadership, the organization recently produced a “strategic plan” that, if nothing else, provides a vision of what she and the membership believes to be a guide for even greater successes in the years to come. If asked, she would without hesitation credit the membership with the plan’s vision, but were she not the visionary she is, the plan would never have taken shape. The membership and community owe these two fine executives a vote of gratitude and thanks for their indefatigable efforts, and I am certain, given the opportunity, they would enthusiastically and unabashedly do so.
The other two components that helped make the event so successful was the fine cuisine furnished by Davis & Elkins College’s Dining Service, and the talented cast and crew of the American Mountain Theater. The food was all the most discriminating gourmet could ask for, and the verbal antics of emcee Kenny Sexton and musical comedy of his accomplice Denny Franks added a flavor of light-hearted fun.
Thanks to everyone for a job well done.
Here’s a couple notes of interest to the business community from the offices of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. As a result of the Legislature’s stamp of approval on March 8 for the Permitting and Licensing Information Act (Senate Bill 553), the state will soon have an online, one-stop shop for business licensing and permit information, thanks to the efforts of Vision Shared Inc., a statewide, nonprofit economic development organization. The legislation will create a one-stop shop on the state’s Web site so anyone conducting business in West Virginia will be able to go to one location to find a listing of all the permits and/or licenses required, rather than navigate the myriad of state and local regulatory agencies individually, according to Vision Shared President Juliet A. Terry.
“This is a much-needed e-government service for West Virginia,” Terry said. “It will enhance our state’s ability to facilitate business growth by putting all the specific requirements for licenses, permits and special registrations businesses need at their fingertips.”
Kyle Schafer, state CTO of the governor’s Office of Technology said, “Part of Gov. Joe Manchin’s broadband initiative is to build consumer demand by making more information available via our e-government web portal. This legislation will complement the governor’s plans and give anyone engaging in a business activity better access to the permits and licenses they need to comply with local and state regulations.”
Small businesses might want to mark June 5 on their calendar. That’s the date the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, through its Small Business Committee, partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration, will present the 2008 West Virginia Small Business Awards.
Gov. Manchin is scheduled to present the awards at a special luncheon in the Grand Hall of the Cultural Center at the State Capitol Complex. The Chamber’s Small Business chairman, George Manahan of The Manahan Group, will serve as the event’s host. The awards will be presented at 11 a.m. followed by lunch.
Six SBA awards will be presented in the following categories: Small Business Person of the Year, Financial Services Champion, Minority Small Business Champion, Small Business Journalist, Women in Business and Young Entrepreneur. In addition, three awards will be presented to honor financial institutions that support small businesses: Large National Bank, Community Bank, and Community Express Bank.
Registration details will be forthcoming and I’ll try to relay them as soon as they are released. Seating for the event is limited to 150 people. The cost to attend is $30 per person.
For information on sponsorship opportunities, call Maggie Poling at 342-1060.
Members of the Downtown Merchants Association will be serving refreshments at the All Veterans’ Memorial on May 26. Anyone interested in donating money to help defray expenses or volunteer their service to help may call Ed Griesel at Ceramics with Class at 636-2903. Help in either or both areas will be greatly appreciated.
It seems that all I bring you is bad news about the economy, and the U.S. Department of Labor statistics released on April 4 does not help the issue.
According to the labor department, the U.S. economy shed 80,000 jobs in March, the biggest monthly drop in five years. In January and February, 76,000 jobs were lost each month. Together the numbers offer the most persuasive evidence yet that the economy has slipped into a recession.
Employment in the service sector rose by 13,000 jobs in March, but they were all in government service. Private service sector jobs fell by 5,000. Professional service companies shed 35,000 jobs in March and retail lost 24,000 more. Temporary employment dropped by more than 21,000 last month. Manufacturing firms, which have cut jobs every month for almost two years, shed 48,000 jobs in March. Auto employment fell by 24,000.
The number of people who stopped looking for work because they didn’t think they would find work — the so called “discouraged workers” — rose to 401,000 last month. If these workers had continued to look for jobs, the employment rate would have been higher than the 5.1 percent reported for March.
No labor data for the month of March was available for West Virginia by presstime Friday.