Ask how the Greater Cheraw Chamber of Commerce benefits its members. The local chamber exists to make this community a better place to work, live, and play. It is a not-for-profit advocate for business in the greater Cheraw community, and the Chamber motto is Better Business, Better Living.
Amazingly, all of the work of the Chamber is accomplished by only two full-time staff people – President Patsy Hendley and Administrative Assistant Cathy Smith – along with the 14-member volunteer Board of Directors. This is a working board. There are monthly meetings, and Board members work hard on every single event sponsored by the Chamber.
The Chamber is not an arm of the Town of Cheraw in any way. It receives NO tax money, not hospitality tax, not accommodations tax, and not real estate tax, although many chambers in other communities do receive some of those tax dollars. In fact, the Town is a member of the Chamber, just as many businesses, individuals, civic clubs, and others are members. If it were not for the members, this local Chamber could not begin to do what they do, and they do a lot.
- They sponsor the monthly Lunch and Learn series which brings outstanding and sometimes nationally recognized speakers to talk to members and non-members at the Country Kitchen over lunch for one hour.
- In the first quarter of the year the local Chamber co-sponsors with the Cheraw Rotary Club the Shadow Day experience and a meal for nearly 200 participants and business hosts.
- In spring the Chamber hosts the Taste of Cheraw, which is the highlight of the year and after months of preparation is a product of nearly a full week in devoted effort on the part of the paid staff and every Board member. It is an unbelievable event that brings together local food-service businesses to showcase their wares and is an opportunity for networking among members and non-members.
- One of the most important activities of the Chamber is behind the scenes: meeting and greeting individuals, businesses, and tourists who are interested in Cheraw and providing packets of information in response to requests.
- The Chamber staff recommends businesses such as real estate agencies, restaurants, and hotels by phone and in person every day. They have as many as 20 visitors to the Chamber office in any one day and talk to them about the Town’s history and the many assets of the community.
- The Chamber also maintains an extensive website to showcase the Town and member businesses.
- The Chamber sponsors Leadership Cheraw, a 9-month educational program for around 10 participants who are up-and-coming leaders and want to learn all about the Community. They take a full day out of their schedules every month to study the Town’s health care facilities, natural resources, education facilities, tourism and history, social issues, and city and county government and law enforcement. At the conclusion of their year, they present the community with a project that benefits Cheraw. For example, they produce the Criterium Bicycle Race annually and last year they presented a feasibility study of small business incubators for Chesterfield County. This year they are working on a much-improved Farmers Market.
- The Chamber sponsors the Service Corps of Retired Executives, better known as SCORE, which provides free business consulting to small business in the area.
- Chamber staff and Board member advocate for business before the Town Council and with State legislators and members of Congress. When a visiting dignitary comes to Town as happened last week, the Chamber hosts him/her even if it is a spur-of-the-moment event.
- The Chamber runs seminars such as the 5-day Small Business Boot Camp held in the spring each year.
- The staff and Board members support activities and events put on by the Town and by the Merchants Association and others.
- It sponsors an annual golf tournament. This year’s tournament took place October 6 and provided lunch and dinner for 80 participants.
- The Chamber sponsors the Business-Industry EXPO which last year included a Job Fair.
- It has an annual new teachers’ drop-in to introduce new teachers to the community leaders and vice-versa.
- It conducts ribbon cuttings for new member businesses.
- In November the Chamber puts on an annual banquet and names the Cheraw Person of the Year. This year they plan to name a Business of the Year as well.
- All during the year the Chamber sponsors Business-after-Hours events for business members and others to network in a relaxed atmosphere.
All of these events and activities benefit the whole community. The Staff and Board members work hard to make them special and to secure enough funding through membership dues and the generosity of businesses to support the programs. Dues are a bargain, considering all that the Chamber accomplishes during any year. For more information, interested people may call Patsy or Cathy at the Greater Cheraw Chamber office, 537-7681.