Oconee County is growing at record pace and the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce works diligently to serve as a unified voice for businesses to promote growth and improvement in the community, economy, and quality of life through connection, advocacy, and education.

    The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce is one of the oldest in the country, with an original incorporation date of August 10, 1906.  Over the years our Chamber has evolved to meet the needs of our developing area. The last major change occurred in 2017, when the three main city chambers in our region combined to create the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce. The towns of Seneca, Walhalla and Westminster worked together to merge into one entity, thus providing greater opportunities for the businesses and organizations in the county to access the support they need. 

    The last few years have been challenging for everyone, with Covid causing many of the traditional Chamber services to be interrupted, changed, or completely halted. Thankfully South Carolina remained flexible with its legislation and allowed our small businesses to continue to operate during this time. The Oconee County Chamber supported our area businesses and encouraged growth in our area. Our County is experiencing an influx of new residents causing an increase of businesses and expansion at record levels. This presents many opportunities for us to fulfill our mission to promote a thriving business community through connection, advocacy, and education. 

     In April of 2022, I was hired as President of the Oconee County Chamber. My predecessor did a wonderful job of bringing us out of the Covid era and re-establishing many of the events and programming which was in place pre-Covid. We have continued to build and expand those efforts here in Oconee County. In April we opened a satellite office in the town of Westminster, giving businesses and organizations easier access to our resources.

    With Business After Hours and Ribbon Cuttings occurring on a regular basis in 2022, we sought additional ways to support our members. When looking at our membership we saw a specific need to encourage and educate our non-profit partners. So, in February we started our Non-profit Vitality Committee which meets monthly. The meeting includes various topics of interest to the non-profit community, and it is held at a different non-profit location each month.

    We also are hosting monthly morning events in all three of the main towns within our county. We host Coffee and Commerce in both Westminster and Walhalla. We have coffee and a light breakfast for the attendees and include a quick, but educational presentation on a different topic each month. In Seneca, we focus on networking at Chamber Chatter. We provide coffee for attendees, introduce new members, give updates from the Chamber, and allow plenty of time for networking and interaction.

    This month we will host our first Business Bites workshop. These are designed as longer educational opportunities on relevant topics in our current business environment. On July 22, the topic is Finding and Keeping a Good Staff. This is a challenge for both small and large organizations so during the two and a half hours we will discuss specific ways to conquer staffing issues. This workshop is open to non-members as well. To find out more information or sign up to attend click on the link below https://oconeechambersc.com/welcome/events/calendar/#id=213&cid=1759&wid=701 

    We are bringing back several annual events in 2022 which were paused during Covid. The Leadership Oconee began in March 2022 with a class of 15. We also are bringing back our Top 20 Under 40 and State of Oconee events in Fall of 2022.  The Oconee Chamber of Commerce remains optimistic and excited about the upcoming opportunities to expand our outreach and impact.

    We reach out monthly to update the public on our events, recognize new and returning members and highlight significant developments. We have a large spread in our local newspaper and appear as a guest on a local morning radio show. This allows us to share with the community and keep them informed on a regular basis.

    The Oconee County Chamber is also working with Visit Oconee, The Oconee Economic Alliance, and local municipalities to seek out additional ways to collaborate and impact our area. The Oconee Economic Alliance introduced their new Director, Jamie Gilbert in June 2022. Jamie has an extensive economic development background which will be an asset as Oconee County continues to attract businesses from various sectors. The Chamber looks forward to supporting his efforts to recruit additional businesses to Oconee County.

    Recently Oconee County hosted the SC7 Expedition for the third year as they kicked off their mountains to sea expedition along the Palmetto Trail. The SC7 Expedition, spearheaded by Tom Mullikin set off from the Oconee State Park on July 1 and will continue throughout the month incorporating various modes of travel eventually reaching South Carolina’s coast on July 30, 2022. 

    Oconee County is beautiful geographically and provides wonderful opportunities to get out and enjoy nature, but it is also a thriving area for businesses to grow and contribute to this wonderful community. To learn more about the Oconee County Chamber please visit us at www.oconeechambersc.com or contact me at director@oconeechambersc.com

    Included in the photo: Julie Gifford, Crystal Romanyszyn, Hannah Eades and Dari McBride