Wood has goals for Chamber of Commerce in new year

The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean Lisa Wood, Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce executive director, addresses those in attendance at the pre-session Legislative Luncheon in Elkins.

ELKINS — With the start of the new year and a new director at the helm, a local agency has high hopes to boost economic development in the area.

Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Wood began her tenure with the organization on Nov. 7 and is proud of the Chamber’s accomplishments.

“I want to begin by saying that I very much appreciate former Executive Director Wendy Hill’s contributions to the Elkins & Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. I think she did a great job during her time in Elkins, and she left big shoes for me to fill. She set up several events that occurred following her departure, and they made my start at the Chamber much easier,” Wood said.

“I’m proud that the Chamber provides many different events/activities that support business in our area, while also providing events that benefit its citizens. I use the Christmas Parade held last month and the Legislative Luncheon held this week as examples of each,” she continued. “The Christmas parade was cold, snowy, and held on a day of national mourning, but it was also fun and meaningful for both the participants and on-lookers alike. And the Legislative Luncheon fits perfectly with our mission to advocate, educate, and network to enhance business opportunities in Elkins & Randolph County.”

Wood hopes to keep moving forward in the new year through strategic planning to promote the economy within the county.

“The Chamber is in the process of strategic planning. We want to make sure the Chamber is focused on being a positive, vibrant economic driver for our business community. We are surveying our members for their input, so that we’re sure we’re moving in the direction that will support their businesses/organizations while also promoting the region to visitors and possible new business investment,” she explained.

“I have two goals for this year: First, to make sure we complete our strategic planning, so that, second, we can provide programs and events that are focused on being that economic driver,” Wood continued. “If an event doesn’t provide opportunities for advocating, educating or networking for the Elkins-Randolph County business community, it probably shouldn’t be a Chamber event.”

Wood said she is taking a similar approach to the chamber of commerce position as her husband, Chris, did when he took the reins as president of Davis & Elkins College.

“I’m taking my time learning ‘the ropes’ here at the Chamber. When my husband arrived as the president at D&E, he told them everything would be ‘status quo’ for the first year,” she said. “Then, he began to make the changes he felt were right for the school now. I’m taking the same approach. The strategic plan will guide the changes, additions and deletions we make to our calendar.

“We want the programs, events and benefits we provide to our members to be mission-driven. We have a new Workforce Team sponsored by the Chamber that brings together people from education, business, tourism, and government,” she continued. “Its task is to determine our regions workforce needs and, in turn, implement educational opportunities to create a skilled/trained populace that can work and remain in the area.

“All that being said, I’m sure once the survey and strategic plan are complete, and the workforce has developed a plan of action, we will begin offering new, or ‘new and improved,’ opportunities to advocate, educate and network in the business community.”

Plans for the survey are to find out what visitors to the area wish to see when they come for a visit.

“One of our survey questions asks, ‘If you had to describe Elkins/Randolph County to a stranger thinking of bringing a business to the area, what would you say?’ You might add ‘or a stranger thinking of visiting the area.’ I was a visitor to this area in 2016. My family did decide to move here,” Wood said. “I believe in what Elkins and Randolph County are and, even more, what they can be.

“I would tell anyone thinking of visiting or opening a business in our area, ‘This is a place of rich tradition, hard-working people, bountiful resources, creative citizens,and natural beauty to rival anywhere I’ve lived or traveled.’ I truly believe there are great things coming to our area,” she continued. “But, as I told those attending the Legislative Luncheon this week, we must work together, because ‘we are infinitely stronger together than we are individually.’ It is through collaboration of leaders in business, government, non-profit organizations, and volunteers throughout the area that we can make Elkins a place we want to shop, play, live… and stay.”

Wood said she is pleased in her new position and noted that even if she were to win the lottery, she would continue doing what she is doing.

“I’m loving this position. It suits me, because I want to see Elkins & Randolph County be the best it can be,” Wood said. “(After winning a lottery) I’d probably take a really nice vacation, but I’d definitely keep working. I think that says a lot!”

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