Servant leadership was the theme at the 94th Joint Annual Meeting of the Augusta Metro and Columbia County chambers of commerce Wednesday as the two chambers passed the proverbial gavels to new chairmen.
The event's guest speaker, author and business consultant Ken Blanchard, challenged a banquet hall packed with local business leaders to use their positions of authority to serve the public instead of appease their egos.
"Turn the pyramid upside down and give the people who are closest to the customer more power - they're the important ones," he said.
Augusta Metro Chamber President Jim West praised Chairman Ed Tarver's leadership in the past year before introducing next year's chairman, Robert Osborne, the president of Wachovia Bank.
During Mr. Tarver's chairmanship, the chamber persuaded Civic Development Group, a New Jersey-based teleservices company, to open a new outbound call center at Augusta's Westgate Center; enticed Germany-based Trocellen, an industrial foam manufacturer, to construct a 100,000-square-foot building in the Forward Augusta Industrial Park; and assisted in convincing Standard Textile to purchase the assets of and reopen King Mill.
These and other economic development efforts helped bring more than 600 new jobs in the area.
"We have created a platform for sustained growth and development," Mr. Tarver said. "We have brought issues of economic development to the forefront."
Mr. Osborne said he hopes in the coming year Augusta will play a larger role in state organizations.
"We're the second-largest city in the state," he said. "And we need representation."
Columbia County chamber Chairwoman Linda Crowell gave way to Sweetheart Cup Co. Plant Manager Brett McGuire, who stressed the importance of working with the Augusta chamber and other organizations.
"If Richmond County is successful, Columbia County is successful," he said. "We're all one community, and those borders really don't exist. That's the theme you'll see with the chamber this coming year."
Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.