Members of the Cashiers Area Chamber Board of Directors recently met for their annual strategy session to discuss organizational and community priorities in 2019.

“We believe it’s important to recalibrate our strategic focus every year, reaffirming our long-term vision and our near-term programming,” explained chamber executive director Stephanie Edwards. “We evaluate everything we do against our Core Purpose ‘to provide extraordinary leadership in the Cashiers Area as an advocate for business, information source for the community and conduit for building destination awareness and responsible growth’.”

Board President Mary Lanning, of Hampton Inn & Suites Cashiers/Sapphire, welcomed new board members Ashton Harris of the Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Wendy Lupas of Gracewear, and Donnie Shuey of Signal Ridge Marina and recognized Lec Hobbs of Highland Hiker who was out of town.

Chamber officers for 2019 are Lanning, President-Elect Glenn Ubertino of Zoller Hardware, Treasurer Ben Harris of Harris Custom Builders, and board Secretary Edwards. Returning board members are: Justin Allman of FireMoss Pottery; Tony Austin of Lake Toxaway Company; Ken Fernandez, Chair/Economic & Community Development, of Old Cashiers Realty; Debby Hattler of Sotheby’s International Realty-Cashiers Office; Sarah Jennings of Lonesome Valley; Kathy Korb of Laurelwood Inn and Brandy Letson of Cashiers Valley Pharmacy. Malice Grant of Sounds Essential and past-president of the chamber board serves in a courtesy board role in her capacity as president of the Cashiers Area Legacy Fund.

The group reviewed the Chamber’s Core Purpose and Values and discussed ongoing and potential new programming and member benefits. Harris presented more details on Leadership Cashiers, a developing community engagement initiative, and also on the group’s continuing work to create a sidewalk system in the village core. (Last quarter, the Chamber paid for a comprehensive topographical survey which will be used as a planning tool to execute engineering for future sidewalk construction. An inner-loop segment -- encircling the Village Green, public amenities and nearby retailers -- has been identified as the initial priority in a community-wide pedestrian network.)

In preparation for activity planning, directors carried out several exercises to determine awareness and value of past events and programs and brainstorm new possibilities. It was agreed that a special efforts will be made to promote retailer success, including forming a task force to brainstorm coordinated marketing opportunities. Continuing focus will be directed on workforce development through the Chamber’s various outreach and research, pedestrian mobility and safety, broadband connectivity, infrastructure development (in particular, water resources), and community engagement including the Cashiers Area Legacy Fund, a 501(c)3 foundation to support education and public works, created by the Chamber in 2018. It will also continue its support and involvement with the Lake Toxaway Business Alliance, led by Chamber Director Tony Austin of Lake Toxaway Company and Chamber member Carol Hargis of The Blind Mule Restaurant.

In an unincorporated area with no municipal government and with more than 400 business, nonprofit and associate members, the Chamber plays a critical leadership role in economic and community development. It actively represents Cashiers Area’s interests before county, state and federal officials to ensure tax revenue and other reinvestment supports measured growth. It also serves as a contracted agency to the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority to operate the southern gateway Visitor Center and promote effective tourism management.

Among the Chamber’s notable contributions are funding and construction of local destination signs and funding, construction and management of the community banner display at the Crossroads. It publishes and distributes 50,000 plus copies of the annual Cashiers Area Visitor Guide & Membership Directory and the Cashiers Area Shopping & Dining Guide and pedestrian map in addition to maintaining a digital presence with a comprehensive website and an online community calendar To join or for more information, visit or call 828-743-5191.

(Pictured: Members of the 2019 Cashiers Area Chamber Board of Directors)