Highlands community dependent on successful chamber of commerce

Effort currently underway to Revitalize organization

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

With the turn of the calendar, new leadership will take over for the struggling Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce. The challenges for the chamber have been many over the last few years, but a well-attended November and December meeting gives hope that the organization will survive and thrive.

Incoming president Jim Wadzinski believes with certainty the organization will continue to lead the community and provide necessary services.

“I’m thinking that the Highlands-Lynchburg area has an even more crucial need for a chamber than most places,” Wadzinski said.

He pointed to the fact that the community is situated in an unincorporated area of the county absent municipal leadership to address needs.

“Where do you go?” Wadzinski asked.

At their first board meeting of the year last Wednesday, Wadzinski said Wallisville Road was a topic of conversation.

“We were informed that some of the pavement in front of the Chinquapin Preparatory School at 2615 East Wallisville Road, in Highlands had collapsed,” the new chamber president said. “That’s a real issue with that roadway.”

It was brought up with county officials and early Thursday morning, Wadzinski said they had been informed that Precinct Two engineering was approving plans, and a crew was ready to go to work on the roadway since it was a dangerous situation.

“That’s a perfect example of what an active chamber can do,” he said. “In a community, like Highlands in an unincorporated area where there’s no city office to call, it becomes a little muddy in terms of who do we contact, especially now that they’ve redistricted Precinct Two and Precinct Three.”

Establishing those relationships and knowing who to call to get action, Wadzinski said, is a vital piece of the puzzle for a chamber in a small or unincorporated community such as Highlands-Lynchburg.

“That’s why we need an active, vibrant chamber and it’s our intention to reactivate this chamber and return it back to the point where we can once again be the ‘go-to’ for the community,” he explained.

Wadzinski also promised that many of the previous events that used to be hosted by the chamber will return.

“In February, we will host our gala and ask the community for Terry Davis Award nominees, we’ll revitalize our monthly luncheons, and continue featuring students of the month from Highlands Junior, Highlands Elementary, and BP Hopper,” he said.

Wadzinski said they also hoped to continue the Partners In Education program as well.

“We need the business community to rejoin and support what we’re doing,” he asked.

“We can’t do any of this without the businesses to maintain an office and that includes phone lines, power, website, and much more,” he said.

Reba Rachall has agreed to take on the position at the chamber to work in the office.

“We have her for a couple of years,” he said, “and once we put all the pieces back together again, then we’ll start looking at what we need to do going forward. Right now, we just need to get the pieces put back together.”

Wadzinski said the chamber luncheons are open to the public and he hoped folks would come and see for themselves the benefits of networking with other business leaders in the community.

“Right now, financial support, which comes primarily from membership fees and sponsorship of our events, is critical to our longevity and long-term success,” he said.

Businesses have an opportunity to reach out to the chamber with their upcoming gala and golf tournament.

To learn more about the chamber, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/highlandslynchburgchamber/