By: Carole Townsend | Gwinnett Citizen
Published: 2017-07-15 09:04
Date Modified: 2017-07-15 09:04
GECC holds ribbon cuttings several times a month for new businesses.

Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce (GECC) has become a strong community partner to both businesses and residents in the Loganville, Snellville, and Grayson areas over the past decade.

That strength and value are no accident; from the time of the Chamber’s inception 11 years ago, a team of business-savvy professionals has been at the helm. Doug Adams currently serves as president of GECC, and he was recently re-elected to serve a second two-year term.Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce (GECC) has become a strong community partner to both businesses and residents in the Loganville, Snellville, and Grayson areas over the past decade. That strength and value are no accident; from the time of the Chamber’s inception 11 years ago, a team of business-savvy professionals has been at the helm. Doug Adams currently serves as president of GECC, and he was recently re-elected to serve a second two-year term.

“In March 2006, four ladies sat around a table in Grayson and talked about the need for good networking in the Grayson area. Michelle Couch was one of those ladies, and she guided the Chamber through those early times. Michelle served as president those first years and Jamie Dempsey led GECC from 2011-2015. When GECC celebrated the Open House and Ribbon Cutting for their new office in Loganville (133 Camp Street) in March of 2016. Michelle Couch pointed out that, although we didn’t plan it this way, the Open House was exactly 10 years to the month after the Chamber was founded,” Doug said, proudly.

Alison Reid, Doug Adams (GECC president), Amy Stanitzke and Joy Faircloth, of Dogwood Forest Assisted Living in Grayson, at the First Annual GECC Awards BanquetAlison Reid, Doug Adams (GECC president), Amy Stanitzke and Joy Faircloth, of Dogwood Forest Assisted Living in Grayson, at the First Annual GECC Awards BanquetOver the years, GECC has grown from a group of 4 women to more than 180 members. GECC was also named the official Chamber of Commerce for the city of Snellville. “We have a great working relationship with all three cities and appreciate the support we get from each one,” Doug said.
Adams is quick to point out the things that make GECC such a valuable partner to businesses in the “tri-city” area. “Chambers of Commerce are a lot like governments. There is the federal government, then state, then county, then city. They’re all different sizes, and each of them serves a unique population,” Adams explained. “At GECC, we do have some large businesses as members, including Eastside Medical Center, Cracker Barrel, Dogwood Forest and Benton House. They are all very active, key members, but our focus – the majority of our members – is the small business, the mom-and-pop businesses. We act as a voice for them in the community.”

Another unique facet of GECC is the fact that the Chamber gives generously to local charities. “The Grayson Chili Cook-off, held every November, is our big fundraiser that fund our charitable giving. Over the years, we’ve been able to help organizations such as the Southeast Gwinnett Food Co-op, Shepherd’s Staff, FISH and Place of Seven Springs, and many more with the money we raise through this popular annual event,” Adams said, adding that the city of Grayson lends a helping hand with the event every year. This year, the Grayson Chili Cook-off is scheduled for November 11 in Grayson City Park.

As the number of businesses in the cities of Loganville, Grayson and Snellville has grown, so has GECC. In fact, ribbon cuttings are held several times monthly and are currently scheduled through the month of August. “We often hold joint ribbon cuttings with the Walton Chamber. We consider them to be an important partner in many aspects,” Adams said.

There are several other regular services GECC offers members. For example, “Lunch & Learn” is a monthly get-together offering members lunch and the benefit of a speaker who talks to the group about relevant business or community matters. Lunch & Learn is currently held at American Tavern restaurant, likely throughout the rest of 2017. Normally, Snellville City Hall is the location for this popular event.

“Nothing but Net” is a weekly gathering held every Wednesday morning from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. at Grayson Coffee House. This is a popular and useful networking event that is open to the public.

GECC’s NetLinks Groups in Grayson and Loganville are closed networking groups available to Chamber members.

GECC also distributes a weekly e-mail newsletter called Chamber Chat to more than 900 people. “I know this might sound cliché, but it’s also true,” Adams said. “At GECC, we really are like a big family. We often hear people say that they feel welcome and a part of things with us, as opposed to larger Chambers, and we want to hang onto that small town culture here, no matter how much we grow.”

To join GECC or to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member, visit www.EastsideChamber.com. Discounted memberships are available to retirees, political members at the city, county or state level, and non-profit organizations. Those interested in membership may also call Angie O’Kelley, GECC Membership Director, at 770-789-1584.