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Former Chamber of Commerce chairman receives key award for impact on group
At 53rd annual meeting
Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce Immediate Past Chairman Phil Gardner presents the Chairman’s Award to Marsha Frith, his predecessor in leading the board. The presentation was made during the chamber’s 53rd annual meeting, held at Chatmoss Country Club. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Friday, October 12, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Marsha Frith, a local certified public accountant, received the Chairman’s Award during the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s 53rd Annual Meeting on Thursday.
The chamber’s board chairman gives the award annually to a person he or she thinks has had a huge impact on the organization.
Immediate Past Chairman Phil Gardner did not have far to look to find this year’s award winner — Frith was his predecessor in leading the board.
“While she shies away from the limelight,” Gardner said, “when duty called, she was there to represent the chamber with class and professionalism.”
When providing him advice during his tenure as chairman, he said, Frith “was always a voice of reason and displayed a remarkable calmness when I tended to speak out or go rogue” at times.
Being “a numbers person ... she would always put two and two together to make sure the chamber never lost its purpose to position our members for economic competitiveness,” Gardner said.
“Without her help, our organization would not be where it is today,” he added.
Gardner noted that the chamber has had a successful year. Among its accomplishments, he said, were:
• Attracting a “record-matching” number of people to its annual trade show in March at the clock tower building off Commonwealth Boulevard.
• Continuing a partnership with the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and Pittsylvania County Community Action to provide services to the business community and help employers find public and private resources to recruit and retain workers and stay competitive in a global market.
• Holding successful leadership development and supervisor training courses.
• Adding to its membership rolls each month. The chamber has more than 600 members, which Gardner said is “a strong testament” to the services it provides amid tough economic conditions.
He said he values the chamber’s “ability to diversify” and do whatever it determines is best for the local business community.
Gardner formally passed the chairman’s gavel to new board Chairman Guy Stanley, who actually has been chairman for several months. This year’s annual meeting was held later than usual to accommodate the schedule of keynote speaker Gov. Bob McDonnell. (See related story on Page 1-A.)
In the current fiscal year that runs through June 30, the chamber will focus on retaining and growing its membership by expanding programs, launching new initiatives and “making a real difference” in the community’s success, Stanley said.
Efforts will be made to improve communication with the public, work force development and educational opportunities through public schools and the New College Institute and other higher education institutions, he said.
HELP FOR BUSINESSES
The Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG), an independently run affiliate of the chamber, raises private funds for economic development efforts. It also offers grants to help existing businesses grow and prosper.
Ron Haley, C-PEG’s immediate past president, announced that Martinsville Electronics LLC has expanded with a grant from the partnership. The money was used for parking lot improvements at a new building, he said.
He did not say how much money the firm received.
Due to its rapid growth, the firm has hired three new computer technicians, Haley said.
He said he hopes other businesses will apply for C-PEG grants.
Since it was established with about $1 million in the mid-1990s, C-PEG has leveraged another $5.5 million in funds to help spur economic growth, noted its new president, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell.
On occasion, “we’ve invested in initiatives that weren’t popular at the time” but have since “become a mainstay as part of our (area’s) holistic approach to economic development,” Campbell said.
He said he hopes that in 2013, C-PEG can leverage funds with community partners to “hopefully double, if not triple, what we’ve been able to provide” small businesses until now.