THOMASVILLE — The new faces of the Thomasville & Thomas County Chamber of Commerce, Lauren Basford, executive director, and Christina Reneau, assistant director, are busy moving the chamber into a new era.

When the former leadership of the chamber retired almost exactly one year ago, Basford and Reneau jumped in with both feet to what they called a “baptism by fire” as they began adding to the strong foundation of chamber programs and began building on them.

“The chamber was very well established. It had been here since 1921, so we had a great infrastructure we were building on,” said Basford, “but we wanted to add to that.”

“We've managed to introduce some really innovative programing,” she continued, “using a lot more technology and turning our focus to small business and entrepreneurs.”

Shelley Zorn has been put in charge of economic development, industrial expansion and improvement, freeing Basford and Reneau to concentrate on members and how to benefit them.

The chamber added a lot of free seminars and plenty of new educational opportunities.

“We want to show that being a chamber member has value,” said Basford.

One of these new programs is the new Young Entrepreneurs and Professional Club, call YEP.

The chamber is also undertaking a new marketing strategy, including a new logo and a new website, in January. It is using social media platforms to communicate with members such as Facebook and Twitter.

Starting in 2015, it will have a YouTube channel for chamber members. The film for the channel will all come from the Thomas County Central mass media department. The mass media students have partnered with member businesses to do short films on those businesses.

“These kids are unbelievable,” Basford said.

Reneau said they put forth a concerted effort to be out in the community more. As a result, the chamber added 50 to 60 new members this year and it celebrated its 500th member.

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