Highlands Chamber seeks future direction

HIGHLANDS – An ad hoc group of local citizens met last Friday, June 9 to discuss the current status of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce, and to discuss ways to revitalize it.

Led by Chamber board president Randy Casey, they discussed problems such as a negative financial balance, the executive director’s illness, low attendance at lunches and events, and a general indifference in the community.

However, the group also discussed positive indications of the need for a chamber in Highlands. As a business and community asset, it is a potential catalyst for growth and community activities, such as the Jamboree, Santa’s holiday appearance, donations for needy families at Holidays, and communal spirit and socializing at lunches, golf tournaments, awards banquets, and more. The chamber has a long history of leading the community in these types of events, and the ad hoc group was supportive of continuing the traditions.

Methods of strengthening and revitalizing the chamber were discussed, including merging with other chambers, but it was generally felt that Highlands identity and needs would be minimized and possibly disappear in such an arrangement.

Casey pointed out that the Chamber owned its own building on San Jacinto Street, and that asset could be leveraged in several positive ways.

It was noted that the Highlands Chamber at one time had about 100 paid membership, and it was felt by the group that they should be contacted for a renewal of their support. A previous chamber secretary, Reba Rachall, agreed to work on this on a temporary basis, to help re-establish a positive position for the Chamber. If this solicitation is successful, the board could then move ahead with solving the financial problems and hiring a new executive director to manage the day-to-day activities of the organization.

Gretchen Knowles, representing Harris County Pct. 2, said she will investigate ways that her precinct and Pct. 3 might be able to help restart the chamber.

Randy Casey indicated that the Chamber will require a renewed commitment from the community to succeed. He urged everyone to contribute ideas, time, and dues to help keep the chamber functioning. If you have any suggestions or ways to help, you can contact him at 281- 421-2244. Other board members willing to hear your suggestions are Betty Michalsky, Sarah Davis, and Rev. Phillip Morris.

Also, if you have any ideas Pro or Con on this subject, you are urged to write a letter or an email to the Star-Courier, to keep the discussion going, and hopefully turn up some new ideas and new persons interested in the quality of life and business in Highlands.

The Star-Courier will publish some of these letters, and also invites community leaders to submit an OP-ED article on the subject.