I have essentially been an entrepreneur since I started my own photography business at the age of 18. I took photos of old buildings – historic landmarks, then framed them and sold them at local festivals and craft shows. I continued running that business even while I was an employee in “Corporate America.” In 2010, my entrepreneurial spirit won out once again, and I left that environment to embark on my career as the owner of a Kona Ice franchise in Raleigh, NC. Because of my business ownership, I’ve had first-hand experience with the kind of things that a typical Chamber of Commerce provides for its members, and I’ve had a lot of preconceived ideas of what I thought a Chamber of Commerce actually did. Of course, the Chamber is supposed to be an advocate and provide networking and educational opportunities. Since I have been a member of a Chamber for quite some time, I have been to the speed networking and business after-hours events. I have attended and even presented at ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. But over the years, I constantly asked myself, what exactly I was getting for my investment. It’s both reasonable and understandable that most business owners ask that same question when presented with the opportunity to join any Chamber of Commerce. As I began my new career as the Executive Director of the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, I wondered exactly what a Chamber SHOULD be, what it should DO for area businesses, and how my experience as a business owner should influence the direction of THIS Chamber? In this series of blogs, I’ll share some answers to those questions, and some of my initial experiences as the Executive Director, that have helped shape those answers. In the meantime if you have any feedback about the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, past or present, you can contact the Chamber. Your insights are integral to our growth as an organization.