Fairfield Chamber names new president

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce has named Gene Stephens of Winnsboro as its new president. Stephens replaces former Chamber President Terry Vickers who retired from her post in October, 2017, returned in an interim position during the summer and will step down again in December.

Stephens

Stephens, 40, earned a Master’s degree in Marketing from Clemson University in 2001 and is currently employed by the Fairfield County School District in several positions – media specialist for the district, head soccer coach and assistant coach for basketball and football. He also has experience working for a printing company in sales and graphic design prior to coming to the school district in 2011.

Stephens said his goal as Chamber president will be to bring Fairfield County together, to work with County Council and the Winnsboro Town Council.

“I want everyone working on the same page. I see the chamber as being the leader for economic development in the county, working with the state legislature to make sure we’re upgrading our infrastructure so we can bring more business to the new industrial park,” Stephens told The Voice in an interview on Monday.

“I want to be sure our local businesses are being taken care of, and I will reach out to our membership to be sure we’re meeting their needs. Then I want to bring in other businesses,” he said.

Stephens said, as far as tourism, he wants to start working on some beautification projects.

“I don’t want to sit back and wait for the town and county council and committees to do this or that,” he said. “I want to say, ‘This is what we want to do. We’ve got the people lined up. Let’s get to work.’ I want to grow Fairfield County. I want industry to come back. I want the schools to flourish. I want people outside the county to know about all the great things we have.”

Stephens said he plans to rebuild the Chamber’s website and look at ways to better market Fairfield County.

“We need to get some businesses in those empty buildings. That’s going to have to be some kind of joint venture between everybody,” Stephens said. “We need to come together and renovate that area north of the clock,”

Stephens said he also plans to change the way the people in the county view the school district.

“I want them to view it as an asset, and I want to work with the school district and show the positive things our district is doing,” he said. “We have a really good administration in our school district. Academics is the focus of our administration.”

Stephens said he plans to be at every council meeting in the town and county.

“Input from local chamber members can help with the economic development by developing ideas from what they want to see in Fairfield County,” Stephens said. “We have some great ideas but we need to be sure the plans get carried out. I want to start putting pressure to get plans carried out.”

Stephens said he is not going to sit back and wait for what the county and city council are doing.

“The chamber can be the leaders in it. We can go to them and say, ‘This is what we want to do. Support us on it,” Stephens said.

Stephens said that while he has mostly been involved with the school district until now, he is excited about the opportunity to meet different people.

Stephens said that he hopes to continue coaching until February when basketball season ends, but will be taking on his Chamber position Nov. 29.

Stevens lives in Fairfield County, a requirement set by the board earlier this year for the position.