This year’s annual Chamber celebration comes just after I enter my second year working for the Lake City Chamber of Commerce. Needless to say, sitting down to put together the annual report has been an exercise in personal and professional reflection.
From my first day I knew working here was going to be both challenging and rewarding. I walked into an office half gutted from a pipe burst (no bathroom, yay!), without much of an idea about what exactly goes into running a Chamber. I had recently worked in tourism marketing, helped start a non-profit, and had ran my own hospitality businesses for thirteen years which dabbled in large event planning, so I had a lot of tools in my tool box, but Chamber work was new to me and, if I can admit it here, a little intimidating. I knew I had largely unplanned major summer events coming in fast, and I knew that the combo of the COVID pandemic and finding new locations to hold them were going to pose major challenges.
But then I met Lake City and I knew a whole community had my back.
It started with Laure’n Kann. Laure’n was filling in at the Chamber, running the office until the new staff people were hired and comfortable in their roles. She allowed me feel at ease and was a great help to me personally. Robyn Udenberg, the acting board president at the time of my hire, opened up her office to me to come by for consultations, pep talks, and the use of her facilities (remember, no bathroom at the office!). To make a long story short, over the course of those first few months, I had a lot to learn and digest, but I had an army of helpers at my side who exhibited patience, helpfulness, and that famous Lake City work ethic. From the board, to city employees, to the event committees and volunteers, to everyday citizens stopping by to see how they could pitch in, I knew I was in the right place at the right time in my career.
When I got my feet under me, I hired the amazing Elizabeth Greenawalt as our membership and event coordinator (easily the best decision I’ve made in my time here). And from there, the two of us started digging in to the meat of our work here. Destination marketing, member services, community event planning, etc, etc, etc. Over the course of that year, we relaunched Lake City’s events, forged rock solid relationships in the community, and steered the Chamber to a healthy financial place after COVID busted our budget and bank accounts in 2020.
We’re just getting started though. With a year under our belts we are on better footing and excited to continue working together with all of Lake City to build business and strengthen community… and maybe even have a little fun while we’re at it!