Chamber of Commerce recruiting and growing

Holds annual awards dinner

By Heather Michon, Correspondent

Dozens of Fluvanna County businesspeople and officials gathered at Cunningham Creek Winery Tuesday night (Oct. 16) for their annual meeting, silent auction, and awards ceremony.

It was also a good opportunity for Fluvanna’s new economic development coordinator, Jennifer Edwards, to introduce herself to the community.

Edwards moved up from Mobile, Ala., about a month ago and said she’s enjoying getting to know her new home. “It’s a lot harder in urban areas to be this warmly welcomed,” she added.

Talking with business owners in recent weeks, she said she sees plenty of potential in Fluvanna County. Edwards noted that, while she knows there are some divisions between owners and the county, “unity can happen…and there’s power in unity.”
Jefferson Pharmacy took home the Business of the Year award, while Pamela Dempsey, director of the St. Nicholas Learning Center at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, won the President’s Award for Outstanding Service.

Chamber of Commerce President Rudy Garcia gave the highlights of the year, including over two dozen networking and learning events for members and the inauguration of Fluvanna’s first restaurant week.

Membership in the Chamber has grown to 156.

With an estimated 600 to 1,100 businesses now operating within the county, outreach and recruitment is an ongoing process.
Garcia said one current initiative was to recruit members representing retail, real estate, and medical services to the Chamber’s board. “These are three critical areas we see as missing right now.”

Beyond the awards and updates, the night was devoted to food, wine, conversation, and raffle prizes.

Among the attendees was perhaps Fluvanna’s newest business owner, Lauren Joyner.

A teacher with a M.Ed. from Virginia Tech, she decided follow her dream of opening a child care center not long after the birth of her daughter in 2017. Her husband, Jesse, and other family members helped renovate the former ABC Preschool behind CVS and opened for business in mid-September.

Within the first three weeks, they grew from four infants and preschoolers to 17. She’ll soon have five staff members, and said she’s been really pleased with the quality of the local workforce.

Joyner hadn’t been sure what to expect in attending the dinner, but as county officials and others came by her table to welcome her to the community and offer whatever assistance she might need to make her business a success, she grew increasingly comfortable. “I’m glad we came,” she said.

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