Vickers returns to shore up Chamber

WINNSBORO – Terry Vickers, who retired last October from her post after 20 years as President and CEO of the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, is back in the saddle, but only long enough, she says, to help get the Chamber up and running after it foundered recently under new leadership.

Alarmed after learning last week that the Chamber’s board had voted to become ‘inactive,’ Vickers sprang into action.

“I contacted Harper (Shull, Chairman of the Chamber board) and asked what I could do. He was receptive to my offer to help and suggested I talk with County Administrator Jason Taylor as well as contact each of the Chamber’s board members,” Vickers said. “I did that and I had a 100 percent positive response from both Jason and the board members.”

Two weeks earlier, when the Chamber’s new leadership failed to satisfy Council’s concerns during a budget workshop regarding the Chamber’s plans for the upcoming budget year, Council, which has no oversight over the Chamber other than funding, threatened to reduce the annual funding it provides for the Chamber from $87,500 to $25,000 unless the Chamber provided a financial roadmap by May 9, for how it plans to spend that funding in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The Chamber board responded by voting, in a meeting not announced or open to the public, that it would become inactive as of June 30, the day before the beginning of the new budget year. It also announced piecemeal on Facebook and via email to The Voice and others that the newly hired Interim Director was no longer employed, and that all Chamber employees, which consisted of Susan Yenner at that time, would be let go on June 30. Yenner has been managing the Chamber since Vicker’s retirement in October.

“I explained to Harper and Jason that I would be happy to do what I can to help the Chamber get back on its feet and remain a viable organization,” Vickers said.

Without meeting, the Chamber board reportedly voted electronically to approve Vickers as the new Interim Director for an unspecified period of time. Vickers said she has asked for the Board to ratify that vote during a public meeting. That meeting is to be held in the Chamber on Thursday, May 10, at 9:30 a.m., which is the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting date. That meeting, Vickers said, is open to the public.

While her tenure at the Chamber is open-ended, Vickers said she doesn’t expect it to last longer than about six months.

“I’ll stay as long as I need to for things to smooth out,” Vickers said.

Vickers said she has been tasked with two primary duties in her new role: write a proposal for the Chamber’s funding for 2018-19 and submit it to Council by May 9 and conduct a search for a new director who Vickers will spend an as yet undetermined amount of time training. Vickers said she would also like to work on updating the Chamber’s website.

Vickers said the work before her is more than a job. It’s a passion she says she has always had for the well-being of the County.

“Since 1945, when the Chamber was chartered, too many people have put too much effort into making it successful for it to suddenly end. My goal in getting the Chamber back on its feet, is simply to stick to the purpose in the Chamber’s bylaws, to advance the commercial, industrial, educational, civic and general interest of Fairfield County,” Vickers said. “The Chamber’s mission will be what it has always been, to promote and improve the business environment so that our local economy is stimulated. What we all want is a wonderful quality of life in Fairfield County.

“The County needs a Chamber,” Vickers said. “And the Chamber events need support from the merchants, the local governments and the residents if they are to thrive. I have a lot of faith that everything will work out so long as we are all working toward the same goal.”


Related: Chamber Board meets secretly; votes to become ‘inactive’FC Chamber Board votes to become inactiveCouncil gives Chamber notice

Comments

  1. Randy Bright says

    Kudos to the Chamber board and thanks to Vickers for coming to the rescue. Well done Chamber team.

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