Chamber's goal is to promote civic interest

Adding value to a membership, becoming more visible and promoting Bamberg County and its citizens are just a few goals of Jerry Bell and Billy Meyer who serve as volunteer co-presidents of the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce.

“Our mission at the Chamber is to publicize and advance civic interest in Bamberg County,” Jerry Bell said Thursday, adding, “we want to list every business, church and 501(c) (3) in the county for members and nonmembers in a database.”

Because the Chamber’s major source of income is membership dues, funds are not available to hire a fulltime director. Demmie Raysor serves as acting director of the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce, while Jerry Bell and Billy Meyer serve as volunteer co-presidents.

Billy Meyer is serving his second term on the board of directors of the chamber representing the Ehrhardt area. Meyer, serving his first term as co-director, said that Jerry Bell does most of the speaking for the chamber while he prefers to do the back ground work. “We’ve become friends, I’ve always had the interest of Bamberg County in my heart,” Meyer said.

Jerry Bell, who retired from teaching in 2004, after 27 years in Barnwell, said that he saw working with the chamber of commerce as a way of “networking” with the people of the county of whom he did not know many of having moved to Bamberg County in 1995.

Bell said his involvement in Leadership Bamberg County and the Chamber sponsored Bamberg County Tour of Homes at Christmas time has been a help to him in knowing what’s happening in the county.

In highlighting the importance of having an active chamber of commerce in Bamberg County both men acknowledged the large amount of calls they receive for various information. “We get all kinds of calls,” Bell said. "Recently the History Channel called requesting that the Chamber help get the word out about a 10-part documentary program called ‘American Pickers,’ that will air in 2010 on the History Channel in the USA. The television network is seeking antiques that tell a “thousand tales.” Got a barn full of goods with stories to go along with them? For more information contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (416) 531-2500 EXT. 163

Bell and Meyer say they see the Christmas Tour of Homes being held on the second Saturday in December and the upcoming Salkehatchie Stew Bamberg County’s Brew on March 19th and 20th as a way of bringing people into the community to “spend money.” Again this year half of the proceeds raised from the tour of homes will go to a local charity. Earlier this year the chamber made a donation to the Mary Ann Morris Animal Shelter (MAMAS) with funds raised from last December's event.

The co-presidents say they want to have workshops at the chamber of commerce and they see the need to encourage businesses and citizens to spend more of their money in Bamberg County. They want citizens to know that anyone can be a member of the chamber of commerce, (i.e.) an individual, school, city or business; dues are $25.00 per year.

“What can the Chamber offer a new business? We got to be able to answer that. We both believe that the Chamber can make a difference. The first thing we need to know is who the people and businesses are. We welcome you to come with your ideas, the Chamber is open to everyone,” Bell said.