By Madison Fisler Lewis
Jan. 15, 2015. On Wednesday, Jan. 14, the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Dinner at Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk with a sold out crowd. The dinner was an eventful evening, that included awards, networking and the introduction of the new chamber president.
Past president Richard McGuire introduced the chamber’s new president, Jo-Ann McMurray, during the dinner.
“It felt awesome being announced, I was so excited,” McMurray said.
As the new chamber president, McMurray hopes to employ some new projects to get the members and the chamber more involved with each other.
“We have a lot of projects that we are going to be working on this year,” McMurray said. “A couple of them are done deals and a few of them are opportunities that we are still investigating. We are definitely going to look into cooperative advertising for businesses in Banner Elk. We are going to organize a forum between the businesses and the advertisers and see if we can work something out. In addition, on the first Saturday of every month beginning in May and continuing through August, business owners will have a special activity at each of their businesses to help draw people into Banner Elk. And then there are other programs that we are still investigating.”
As a director of a nursing facility in Greensboro for five years, McMurray feels that she is prepared to take on the tasks and dedicated hard work that it takes to hold the position of president of the chamber of commerce. During her tenure, she hopes that the chamber will be seen as an open door for all members.
“I want members to feel free to contact board members at any time they have a problem or an idea or a suggestion,” she said. “We are here to help our members and that is our main concern. My door is always open and I can always be contacted. I want people to know that they can contact me at any time and that the chamber is here for them.”
In her new role, there are a few things that McMurray has already highlighted as priorities.
“I have a couple of things that we want to do already,” she said. “We want to help the town with the purchase of the Banner Elk Elementary School and help them with the funding for that school. We want to increase tourism in Banner Elk and we want to improve our after hours events.”
Aside from the introduction of the new chamber president, more than 100 guests enjoyed dinner and Stonewall’s new olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room. In addition, live music was performed by Bill Stevenson, who just so happens to be the new chamber president’s cousin. The first Person of the Year award was awarded to Town Manager Rick Owen by Tom McMurray. For more information about Owen and the award, click here.
A surprise speaker, Mayor Brenda Lyerly, announced that she had received the first large donation to purchase the Historic Banner Elk Elementary School. $100,000 was donated from an Elk River Club resident. The board of the Elk River Club sent out a letter that inspired this generous donation.
For more information about the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce click here.
Check out photos of the event below.
Photo by Ken Ketchie