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DeKalb chamber celebrates 75 years of business growth
by Nicole Dow
December 31, 2012 10:11 AM | 2078 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>
Incoming board chairman Arnie Silverman, left, and DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce president Leonardo McClarty discuss the upcoming year.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Incoming board chairman Arnie Silverman, left, and DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce president Leonardo McClarty discuss the upcoming year.
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The DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with new programs and initiatives to grow and enhance membership. “[One] program that we’re really excited about is our young professionals program,” said Leonardo McClarty, chamber president. “This is a brand new program. It’s geared particularly for business professionals from ages 21 to 35.”

The program is designed for networking and professional development and will be held quarterly, he added. Young professionals will get to hear from and interact with leaders in different fields.

The chamber is revamping a program formerly known as the First Monday Lunch.

“We’re changing the date and the name of that program to the Executive Speaker Series,” McClarty said. “As opposed to being the first Monday, it’s now going to be the third Wednesday, and we’re going to have that program every other month.”

The series will bring in elected officials, company CEOs and civic leaders to talk to chamber members about issues of interest to the business community. MARTA’s new general manager and CEO Keith Parker will be the first speaker of the year, said Arnie Silverman, 2013 chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.

“We’re really bringing in top-notch executives who care about DeKalb County and who care about how to improve DeKalb County,” he said. “I think the new general manager is a great kick-off.”

As board chairman, Silverman said one of his goals for the chamber this year is “to maximize the exposure of DeKalb County from an economic development standpoint and embrace small businesses, medium businesses and large businesses.”

McClarty said the chamber has developed a city task force to support economic development throughout the county.

“We’ve developed a city task force … with the sole purpose of working more collaboratively with our municipal governments in DeKalb,” he explained. “In discussions with our cities … they wanted to see the chamber work closer with them and be more supportive of their economic development efforts.”

McClarty said he wants the chamber membership to grow in terms of the number of member businesses and the ways members are involved with the chamber.

“Involved members tend to be more engaged and supportive members,” he said. “We’re hovering around the 600 member mark, but ideally we definitely need to be in the thousands.”

The chamber needs to be larger to really tackle the multitude of opportunities in the county, as well as the challenges, McClarty explained. The chamber will commemorate its 75 years of service in the community with a diamond anniversary gala in September.
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