Rising Sun Chamber installs new slate of officers

Cecil Whig - 11/1/18

RISING SUN — New officers have been installed for two-year terms serving the Rising Sun Chamber of Commerce.

Jamie Bennett, branch manager of Howard Bank in the center of town, is the new president. Angie Vanderhoef, owner of Rise N Grind Cafe, and Theresa Gerst, with Farmer’s insurance, are sharing vice president duties for the term. Carol Hunter, with Hunter’s Auction Services, is the treasurer while Tiffany Simmons, representing West Cecil Health Center, will serve as secretary.

Bennett has only been at Howard Bank since 2016 — moving from APG Federal Credit Union — and became chamber VP the following year.

”I love to give back to the community,” Bennett said.

He expects the community to grow even more now that vital infrastructure needs have been addressed that blocked new development. However, he said the change has already begun with the growth of existing businesses, such as NLX Fitness, and the arrival of new ones, including Rise N Grind and San’s Martial Arts.

”It’s all about small business,” he said of the chamber membership, which supports each other in the marketplace. “We’re looking for more participation in the future.”

There will be a push this year for Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday when the holiday shopping season officially begins. However, the chamber will kick it off this Saturday hoping to encourage shopping locally sooner, rather than later. That kick off will be part of the town’s announcement to officially end the building moratorium.

Norman Hunter, who has served as president of the organization for numerous terms, said any business-minded people are welcome to join the Rising Sun Chamber of Commerce.

”A lot of people that work in business, as a manager or assistant manager, they can offer a lot,” Hunter said. “We like to have business people, but it’s not mandatory.”

Bennett said people do not even have to own a business to be in the chamber. One simply has to have an interest in sustainable commerce.

”My vision is to bring more people into town,” he said, adding he’s not looking for “gangbusters where the town will grow dramatically.”

However, from his vantage point at the corner of Queen and Pearl streets, he has noticed more foot traffic in the center square. He expects more of that as the redevelopment of East Main Street continues and other business arrives.

”Business attracts business,” Hunter noted.

Bennett said the demographics of the chamber is also changing.

”It seems like the young people are interested,” Bennett said. “The people we have now genuinely care about Rising Sun’s future, but they also care about the past.”

Membership in the chamber is $50 per year and avails members to networking and guest speakers at the monthly meetings.

”We share business ideas and help each other with promotions,” Bennett added.

Hunter said the meetings held on the third Wednesday of each month rotate to a different chamber business. While those meetings now are held in the evening, Hunter said there is talk of holding breakfast sessions in the hope of increasing participation.

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