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Chambers sponsors series of events to help overcome pandemic

Whisk Bakery owner Ali Wainwright receives a goody bag Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce member Dustin Brown.

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce has kicked off an ambitious series of events aimed at stimulating business in the region.

Chamber members brought goodie bags to area small businesses to celebrate Small Business Week during the first week of May. 

“We gave out more than 150 goodie bags to our area small businesses,” said Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp. “This was just a small token of our appreciation to all of the small businesses that choose to be here in Unicoi County.”

The first week of May also presented the Chamber with another opportunity to acknowledge how tourism serves as a cornerstone to any economy.  Delp and crew hit the pavement to bring a bit of tourism awareness to Unicoi County. 

“We had swag bags that we presented to several tourism businesses in the county,” Delp said. “The bags were a way of telling them that they have tourism in the bag.”

Delp said that she and her crew also set up at the Tennessee Welcome Center on Interstate 26 to talk with visitors from all over the country. “We let them know that there were plenty of restaurants and unique businesses just a few exits up from the center,” Delp said.

Delp and the Chamber have also hosted several events that are aimed at preparing the community for a post-COVID-19 landscape. 

“We have been working on ways to get people back into networking,” Delp said. “Networking has changed and we now see that it’s about quality of connections over quantity of connections.”

The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Networking Seminar on May 4. 

“We wanted to get people out and to get over the awkwardness of spending the last year in quarantine,” Delp said. “This seminar was a way to start focusing on relationship building. The first step to building your networking skills is to start calling what it is, relationship building. When you start building relationships you will grow your profile and awareness of yourself and your company, find new opportunities, generate sales leads and more.”

Delp explained the importance of updating headshots on business profiles and resumes. 

“I recently read that the recommendation is now that you update your headshot annually,” Delp said. “I know a lot of people that haven’t updated their professional photos for about 20 years.”

Delp said the Chamber had Leslie Black Photography take professional headshots on May 11 for job seekers, business owners and anyone looking to update their business profiles.

Delp has set out to put an end to the social awkwardness of the past year by hosting the first-ever “Vibe at Five,” on May 13. 

“It’s important that we get back to a sense of normalcy,” Delp said. “It’s been a tough year and this is a way that our community could get back out there.”

She said the “Vibe at Five” event is a great way to network and connect. Food and beverages will be served. Door prizes will be given.

The event will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, in the Magnolia Room at 102 South Main Avenue, Erwin.  The event is free and open to all Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce members. No reservations are required.