From the Chairman: Leadership for Community Success

Much of the success in Gainesville-Hall County’s business community is determined directly by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce (GHCC). Such immense responsibility breeds the kind of proactive behavior seen everyday at the Chamber, the area’s premier business leader. The lifeline of the Chamber is our strong member base, and this is a great time to be involved in Gainesville-Hall County¹s lead business organization. With the dynamic leadership of our President/CEO Kit Dunlap and an enthusiastic staff constantly looking at economic, community and membership development opportunities, 2004-2005 looks to be another great year for the Chamber.

Our 2004-2005 business plan is titled “Leadership for Community Success.” The plan states “only through strong leadership will we accomplish our goals of economic success. We want to further develop leadership programs, leadership in relationships, leadership in government, leadership in community development, youth and senior leadership.”

More specifically, your Chamber will be initiating an Annual Leadership Summit in January 2005 for community leaders. Leadership is a tremendous responsibility. Whether you are a company CEO, small business owner, farmer, school superintendent, elected official or community volunteer, a leader needs to continually learn, listen, hear, think. It is important that our state legislators, city council members, county commissioners, school board members, farmers, non-profit leaders and business leaders come together to shape our community¹s future. The benefits of the Leadership Summit can be enormous, specifically in the areas of relationship building and the development of a higher level of trust between all participants.

The individual considered the “Father of Community Leadership Development” and the founder of Leadership Georgia is Dr. J.W. Fanning. In 1986, Dr. Fanning developed “10 Pillars of Leadership.” While there is not room to cover all ten pillars in this article, the second pillar is “Willingness to Listen and Hear.” Dr. Fanning said it is easy to listen, but not hear what is being said. He said, “effective leaders are always good listeners and seekers of understanding of what is being said.” Is the leadership in our community, both appointed and more importantly elected, listening and hearing what the business community is saying? I welcome your input as we try to answer the question, “What do we want our community to be in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years?” We can only achieve this by working together with representatives from all of our community.

Another key leadership initiative sponsored by our Chamber is Leadership Hall County. The mission of Leadership Hall County is to provide the foundation of a lifelong commitment to leadership by creating awareness of key issues that affect the Gainesville-Hall County area and to challenge emerging and existing community leaders to bring about positive change in the community. It was my privilege to speak to the members of the 2004-2005 Class of Leadership Hall County as they kicked off their first of 10 monthly programs. This new class of 35 represents a good cross section of our community. Leadership Hall County is a strong, positive reminder that we have to develop new leaders who are committed to our community for the long term.

In a recent conversation with Jason Taylor, the new General Manager of The Times, Jason said, “A strong community is rooted in the heritage of its leaders.” It is an honor to be associated with the past leaders of our business community such as Charlie Thurmond, Don Carter, Ray McRae, Joann Bagwell, Harold Smith, Woody Stewart, John Jacobs, Jr., Letrell Simpson, Philip Wilheit and most recently Doug Carter, Dick Valentine, Benny Bagwell ¬ a few of the 76 individuals who have served as Chamber President/Chairman.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your board chair. The energy and vitality of the Chamber and its members accurately reflects the business climate of our community. We are all vital cogs in the economic machine, with emphasis on bringing new members into the Chamber to participate in committees on important issues. We are only as strong as our members and their involvement in our organization. With over 2,500 Chamber members, we are the largest and strongest voice for business in the community. Please join me in leveraging our strength in numbers and taking care of business.