Published Friday, February 01, 2013
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Dean Jackson took the gavel as the 2013 chairman of the board for the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
The passing of the gavel was a highlight of the 2013 annual meeting of the Chamber. This year’s was the 65th annual meeting for the organization.
Jackson, public information officer for the Coweta County School System, succeeds Dennis McEntire of Newnan Utilities as chair of the Chamber board. Jackson was accompanied to the afternoon meeting at Newnan Country Club by his wife, Melissa; daughter, Virginia; and father, Malcolm.
“I really do appreciate you, Dennis. I appreciate your friendship and the leadership you’ve brought to this Chamber,” Jackson said. “Our community is a better place and our Chamber, too, because of your leadership.”
Jackson commented on the ‘tremendous number of leaders in this room” who “make this community the kind of community it is.”
He noted the continuing tough economic times, but also struck an optimistic note. “Coweta is more blessed and successful than many other communities in Georgia and many other communities in our nation.”
Jackson pointed to the opening of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital during the past year and also spoke of “a number of other businesses large and small that are succeeding.” The Chamber, Jackson stated, “is a part of that success.”
Both Jackson and Candace Boothby, Chamber president and emcee for the annual meeting, noted Thursday’s banquet was the 65th for the organization. Referring to the success stories of the past year, Jackson said the Chamber has been “part of hundreds and hundreds of stories like that in the past 65 years.”
Throughout its history, the organization has been “a central point for leaders in our community” to connect. Jackson said he believes the Chamber is especially situated for “bringing people together, leaders that we have in this room for this particular mission that we have.”
Approximately 240 people attended the meeting, and each received several printed items – one of them the Chamber’s business plan for 2013. Jackson said the plan outlines “the work that we have set out for us as a Chamber and as a Chamber board” to ensure the Chamber continues to be “that unique, vibrant focal point for our community.”
Jackson said the Newnan-Coweta Chamber is “one of the best – if not the best – chamber” in Georgia, but pledged to work hard to make it even better.
“I get the pleasure every single year of working with amazing people,” Boothby remarked. “This is going to be our best year ever.”
McEntire shared a slide show of the Chamber’s 2012 accomplishments.
‘“We added over 100 members to our Chamber over the past year,” McEntire said, noting 2012 “was not the best time to go out and ask people to join something and spend money.” The growth rate was 17 percent.
McEntire introduced executive committee members, board members and staff. Boothby “is an outstanding executive, and the team I’m introducing is a result of that.”
Awards were presented to Samantha Brazie as Ambassador of the Year and to Andy Miller as Volunteer of the Year. Tony Sinclair was presented the Chairman’s Award.
Ambassadors wear distinctive blue shirts and serve as hosts for Chamber events. Speaking of “their hard work and dedication,” McEntire said, “Ambassadors work continually to open doors for the Chamber.”
McEntire also spoke of the contributions of volunteers. “The Chamber is extremely grateful for each and every one of the volunteers who walk through our door,” he said.
McEntire noted the Chairman’s Award has no prescribed criteria and “can be whatever the chairman wants it to be.” He said he chose Sinclair as someone who “went above and beyond” and who “came to me early, asked to be involved” and took on a major project.
Sinclair “never said no,” was “always volunteering” and “supported the whole team,” McEntire said.
McEntire also announced the 2012 Prosperity Awards. Awards went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Georgia Pain and Spine Care, Piedmont Newnan Hospital, South-Tree Enterprises and Starlite Family Fun Center.
McEntire said it had been a “distinct privilege” to serve as chairman of the Chamber board. He then praised Jackson and predicted great results from his leadership. “Dean may very well be the best chair this Chamber will ever have,” he said.
“I have known Dean and worked with Dean for over 20 years. When I first came to Newnan, Dean was working with The Times-Herald as a reporter,” McEntire said.
“Dean has been a very good friend. I have seen him in all kinds of roles,” McEntire said. “He has grown to be an outstanding leader.”
Jackson “thinks out what he says,” McEntire said. “When he says something, we all listen.”
McEntire pointed to Malcolm Jackson as the root of his son’s success. For many years “a business leader in our community,” Malcolm Jackson continues to lead many community projects, McEntire said.
As usual, the annual meeting was marked by festive decorations, door prize presentations and a dose of fun. Members were encouraged to interrupt the afternoon’s proceedings with knock-knock jokes.
Throughout the evening, there was an emphasis on Prosperity’s Front Door, the multi-year, unified branding effort. Three red doors were behind the speaker’s platform and were opened for parts of the program.
Boothby spoke of the 13 key partner companies that have “breathed life into Prosperity’s Front Door.” She noted Main Street merchants are currently planning an advertising campaign using Prosperity’s Front Door themes.
McEntire spoke positively of the branding campaign and “the progress we’ve made with that and which we continue to make.”
The Newnan-Coweta Board of Realtors was presented with a certificate for a trip to St. Simon’s Island in recognition of the group’s incorporation of Prosperity’s Food Door into its work.
“Our Chamber,” Jackson proclaimed, “now is ready to walk through Prosperity’s Front Door.”