Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber gavel passed to new chairman

September 28, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • Former Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Chairman James E. Miller, left, passes the gavel to the new chairman, Samuel E. Cool, during the 92nd annual meeting of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night at Fountainhead Country Club.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce looked to its future Wednesday night during its 92nd annual meeting, vowing to keep its promise of prosperity.

"The future of Washington County is the future of prosperity in Maryland," said Brien J. Poffenberger, president, chief executive officer and secretary of the chamber. "It's here that we have all kinds opportunities."

Poffenberger briefed the approximately 230 guests at Fountainhead Country Club on the state of the chamber before the organization's outgoing chairman recognized board members and award recipients and passed the gavel onto the new chairman.

"Frankly, the chamber has to do a better job of communicating all that it does," Poffenberger said.

Together with the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland, Western Maryland makes up only about 10 to 15 percent of the state's economy, he said.

"That's going to change," he said.

He said the opportunity curve for Washington County is steep.

"You can think of the chamber as a small business, and our products and services help other business be successful," he said.

The chamber provides networking, information and advocacy for businesses, he said.

Characterizing the past 12 months as "tough," outgoing Chairman James E. Miller of After Five Productions said the chamber has had to do a lot of "scratching" to provide those services, but it has met its goals.

He said he is very proud of the chamber for not only seizing opportunities but for creating them in the past year.

Miller passed the gavel to Samuel E. Cool, who will be chairman of  the organization in the 2011-2012 year.

Cool, who said he lives in Hagerstown but operates his business, Planet Technologies, in Germantown, Md., said that as the chamber looks to its future, he would like to see it expand its boundaries and partner with other local chambers.

What the chamber promised it members is that it will work toward  Hagerstown's and Washington County's future, Poffenberger said.

Quoting past chamber Chairman Brian Flook of Power Marketing & Advertising Inc., Poffenberger said a brand is like a promise.

The chamber has to work on its branding, on its promise, he said.

"That promise is that the next generation of prosperity in Washington County is the next generation of prosperity in Maryland," he said. "That our leaders are ready to play a role on the statewide stage, that we have opportunities here, that we're open for business and that we mean business."

Distinguished service award recipients included: Flook, Miller, Brittney Hamilton of The Herald-Mail Co., Harry Sachs and Kathleen O'Connell, both of the Washington County Free Library, and Sharon Chirgott of Washington County Public Schools.

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