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Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce welcomes new leaders

President Brien Poffenberger says Washington County is primed to take advantage of new economic opportunities

September 27, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Sam Cool, outgoing chairman of the executive committee, passes the gavel to Liz Thompson, incoming chair of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Thursday during the Chamber's 93rd annual meeting at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

As the United States works its way out of the current recession, several counties in Maryland are primed to take advantage of new economic opportunities, a local Chamber of Commerce executive said Thursday night.

Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Brien Poffenberger said Washington County is one of those counties.

“I really think that we are the next generation of prosperity in Maryland,” he said.

Poffenberger’s comments came during his State of the Chamber speech at the Chamber’s 93rd annual meeting before a large crowd at Fountain Head Country Club.

“When we come out of this recession, the counties that are already built out — the big seven along the corridor — they’re not going to see the kind of growth, the kind of job creation, the kind of opportunity that we have here in Washington County,” he said.

Since dipping to about 470 member businesses since the recession hit in late 2007, membership has risen to about 560 members, Poffenberger said, a sign that things are on the upswing for Washington County business.

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Poffenberger said the 560 Chamber business members make up roughly half of the county’s work force, and the Chamber strives to represent and help advance the goals of those businesses.

Thursday’s gathering also included a short ceremony to recognize outgoing board members and executive committee members from the past year, as well as to welcome the new leaders for the coming year.

Sam Cool, outgoing chairman of the executive committee, welcomed new chairwoman Liz Thompson with the passing of the gavel.

“As we hand things over to Liz, I just want to thank you for shadowing me,” Cool said to Thompson before she accepted her new role. “A year and a half ago, I barely knew you. I feel like I really know you now. Besides Facebook updates, I really know you ... so come on up and take things over.”

Thompson, digital director for Herald-Mail Media, thanked Cool and all board members — past and present — as well as the Chamber staff and businesses who participate.

“Thank you all for your involvement in the Chamber,” she said. “It is why the Chamber is successful. We do the best we can as the board and as the staff, but ... the Chamber is its members. That’s what matters.”

Several service awards were given to committee chairs, including Brittney Hamilton (Ambassadors Committee) of Herald-Mail Media, Jim Miller (Washington County Business Awards) of After Five Productions, John Latimer (Government Affairs) of Keller-Stonebraker Insurance and Kathleen O’Connell (Business & Education and Partnership Committee) of Washington County Free Library.

Latimer, a current executive committee member, will shadow Thompson over the next 12 months as he is groomed to transition into a new role as chair-elect, Poffenberger said.

“They rotate in and they rotate out,” he said of his board members, “but they’re all (great assets) and we’re lucky to have them.”

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