Originally created 08/25/06

New leader sees future opportunity



An Aiken resident and former North Carolina chamber director will begin Monday in a similar job with the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

According to The Highlander in Highlands, N.C., Bill Bassham resigned Aug. 17 after six years as director of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce, telling the board he has accepted the job of president and CEO of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Bassham, an Aiken resident since 1972 who commuted to the job in Highlands, said he is impressed with what North Augusta is doing - the riverfront development, which includes Hammond's Ferry and the new town center.

He said he'll bring his experience with tourism and community growth to the North Augusta Chamber.

Highlands is a resort community that deals primarily with tourism and retirees investing in second homes, he said.

"A lot of times towns fall into the trap of wanting new industry," he said, "when what they should be doing is expanding the industry that is there."

He said he will continue to work with local officials to bring the MOX plutonium conversion plant to the Savannah River Site.

Along with its planned growth, he said North Augusta has an impressive small-business community.

"Small businesses, historically across the nation, have brought in more jobs than large industry," Mr. Bassham said.

"North Augusta is poised to go to the next level."

He said he's ready to get into the office, shake some hands and get to know the people and hear their concerns "so we can devise a big plan to meet their needs."

Mr. Bassham replaces Victoria Hann, who resigned in June to accept a job with Augusta State University.

The chamber still has one staff position to fill. Brenda Barratto, the director of membership services, is resigning. Her last day at the chamber will be Sept. 1.

Reach Ed Scott at (706) 823-3704 or ed.scott@augustachronicle.com.