Chamber’s annual meeting to celebrate Wilson businesses

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The Wilson Chamber of Commerce annual meeting is two weeks from today and ticket sales are ahead of previous years.

“The community needs to understand that our annual meeting is not simply a recitation of past accomplishments, but rather a celebration of service to Wilson,” said chamber President Ryan Simons. “It recognizes business leaders who take an extra step in making sure that their success is shared with others. Nowhere is that more pronounced that with our board, which is made up of a diverse group of businessmen and -women committed to growing our chamber and community.”

The event, which is expected to sell out, will kick off with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Kennedy Family Theatre at Barton College. Vidant Health is sponsoring the event this year with a dessert reception to follow the meeting where officials will honor Nancy Sallenger of the Wilson Crisis Center with the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award and retired community leader Greg Godard with the Wilson Lifetime Chamber Membership.

Also during the event, Anita Turnage Jones will remove the “interim” from her title as board chairwoman. The Anita’s Marketing owner stepped into the role back in September when then-chairman Bill Caldwell moved to Pennsylvania for his career.

“I had all these plans and was getting things prepared to serve as chairwoman in 2019, but Ryan gave me a heads-up about Bill leaving and that changed those plans,” Jones said with a grin. “Honestly, Ryan is such an incredible leader that it has been easy to slide into the position sooner than expected.”

The 52-year-old mother of two opened her business in 2009, but since 1987, she has been in the industry and involved in the chamber. She stepped into leadership roles in recent years and has been integral in starting several new programs.

“While Anita officially takes her seat as chair in 2019, her influence has been felt at the chamber for many years,” Simons said.

“She’s been a ready participant in much of our program of work, and this new role is simply a culmination of her involvement at creating a vibrant business community in Wilson.”

Jones said her goals for 2019 are encompassed in a new #WeBelong campaign.

“My goal is to make sure that every member understands that we are one,” she said. “I believe we belong to the most extraordinary group of professionals and I want people to know that when we all work together to grow our businesses, we help the community we live in grow as well.”

During the annual meeting, Heather Drive of CopyPro Inc. will become chair-elect and Jose Pabon of Smithfield Foods will become the secretary and treasurer. Also during the event, three board members will step aside and make way for others to take on leadership roles in the chamber.

“There are a lot of events that happen with the chamber, but the annual meeting is the kickoff for the year and gives people the opportunity to speak with other members and get to meet the chamber leaders,” Jones said.

“In order for you to grow your business, you have to network and you have to get your business out there. The chamber is a way to do that and it also is a chance to tap into professionals that can offer wisdom and knowledge that you may be lacking.”

Tickets to the event are $50 for general admission or $150 for program recognition. To register, visit tinyurl.com/y85nuxt2 or call 252-237-0165.