A newly-installed Cashiers Area Chamber Board of Directors recently convened to discuss the organization’s strategic initiatives and 2020 programming.
The Chamber was founded in 1982 and represents more than 400 businesses, non-profits and associate members across the Plateau including the communities of Cashiers, Glenville, Lake Toxaway and Sapphire. Its core purpose is “To provide extraordinary Leadership in the Cashiers Area as an Advocate for Business, Information Source for the community and a Conduit for building destination awareness and responsible growth.”
Board President Mary Lanning of Hampton Inn & Suites Cashiers/Sapphire Valley, along with executive committee members President-Elect Glenn Ubertino of Zoller Hardware, and Treasurer Ben Harris of Harris Custom Builders, led the diverse group through vision exercises to help establish priorities for future community growth, improvement and sustainability.
2020 Directors are: Justin Allman of FireMoss Pottery, Tony Austin of Lake Toxaway Company, Eduardo Cruz of Eduardo’s Painting, Malice Grant of Sounds Essential, Ashton Harris of Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Debby Hattler of Landmark Realty Group, Lec Hobbs of Highland Hiker, Sarah Jennings of Lonesome Valley, Kathy Korb of Laurelwood Inn/Whiteside Mountain Brewing Co., Brandy Letson of Cashiers Valley Pharmacy, Wendy Lupas of Gracewear, Donnie Shuey of Signal Ridge Marina, Thomas Taulbee of Highlands Cashiers Board of Realtors, and Dr. Don Tomas of Southwestern Community College. Supporting staff are Executive Director Stephanie Edwards and Visitor Center Manager Eli Ramirez.
Tourism is a major focus of the Chamber which operates the Jackson County Visitor Center at Cashiers as a contracted agency to the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority. As an ex-officio JCTDA board member, Chamber staff is actively involved in tourism marketing and management of the Cashiers popular high-elevation destination.
Recently, as part of its Community Engagement initiative and sustainability focus, the Chamber launched Leadership Cashiers, a community educational program to inform, connect and engage individuals by studying civic issues, building strong working relationships, and motivating participants to provide enlightened, dynamic community leadership.
The Chamber works closely with the Jackson County Planning Department in the development and implementation of the Cashiers Small Area Plan which provides a framework for future growth based on community input.
A new focus this year will be Hispanic business development and support, recognizing the important role Hispanic-owned businesses play in the Plateau economy.
In promoting Pedestrian Mobility & Safety, the Chamber underwrote a hardscape survey needed for sidewalk construction, represents Cashiers on the Jackson County Pedestrian Plan committee, paid for the construction of the Village Ramble pathway segment along US 64 West and conducts a crosswalk safety campaign each year.
Recognizing Health & Wellness are an important consideration for economic growth, Chamber staff serves on the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation and works to promote local healthcare access.
In support of its business members, the Chamber hosts “Secret Season” Nosh Mobs to support year-round restaurateurs, holds Red Ribbon Celebrations to recognize new businesses, organizes Business After Hours Showcase & Networking Receptions for business exposure and promotion and sponsors numerous other civic and business-oriented forums.
In 2019, its Retail Roundtable organized a Welcome Cashiers mat and flag campaign to promote the local shopping experience. It organized the Village Lights in coordination with The Village Green tree lighting and a group purchase of 1,500 daffodil bulbs which will bloom in early spring as a visual cue of activity in the village core.
Each year, the Chamber publishes 25,000 printed copies of the Cashiers Area Visitor Guide & Membership Directory and 20,000 of the Cashiers Area Shopping & Dining Guide plus extended digital format distribution. It produces the Cashiers Christmas Parade, streamed live on the internet and publicly broadcast by wnclive.com, hosts the annual Spirit of Our Community Awards to recognize community volunteers, and sponsors the Tour de Cashiers Mountain Cycling & 5K Run.
Other notable achievements include the vigorous promotion of business members success through marketing, anniversary recognition events, networking opportunities, social and earned media features, and numerous other activities. The Chamber created a robust member website and online resources including www.Cashiers411.com (online community calendar), www.CashiersAreaJobs.com and www.DestinationCashiers.com. It erected destination gateway signage on highways US 64 and NC 107, constructed and manages the high-profile Crossroads banner stand, and funds annual litter pickup along the area’s scenic byways. It has held training seminars and provided collaborative support for other civic organizations.
For more information on activities and membership, visit www.CashiersAreaChamber.com or call 828-743-5191. Individuals and families are invited to support the Chamber’s community work as Associate Members.