The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors is undergoing its annual transition as some members are rolling off and new ones are beginning their terms. Additionally, the board has a new incoming chairperson as Tracy Allen of Bell & Son Trucking Co. will take over the role held by Marilyn Sumerford of Access Family Health Services.
“Ms. Marilyn Sumerford, she was the first chairman to have a two-year term, and she was a literal extension of our staff. That’s hard to ask for or find. She was literally someone to call on for that advocacy, policy and as an advisor and mentor. She has been a mentor to me as a woman in business,” said Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Baulch.
Sumerford will remain as past-chair for the next two years to help assist Allen.
“She has that countywide perspective based on business and that connection with the school, kind of like with Ms. Marilyn. It’s that true approach we’re looking for – that one county, countywide approach we’re looking for. She has some high aspirations for us,” Baulch said of Allen.
She added this is the first time the chamber has had two back-to-back at-large chairpersons and female chairs back to back.
Dale Tate of First Federal Savings & Loan and Jim Strawn of Watco are both rolling off the executive board, and Nolan Bowen of Edward Jones and Wesley Bost of Community Bank are rolling off the board of directors.
Baulch said all four of them have added several attributes while serving on the boards because of their diverse background and connections across the county.
Brent Thompson of NexGen and Ben Mattox of Mattox Services will begin their roles on the executive board, while Tina Robbins of the Aberdeen Visitors Bureau, Jimmy Autrey of Westlake, Phillip Faulkner of Avid Boats and Chuck Moffett of Cleveland-Moffett Funeral Home will join the board of directors.
As far as the new members, Baulch noted they also represent a diverse professional portfolio and have plenty of potential.
“When you look at the slate of names the membership has voted on, no matter who is selected to be on the board, they’re going to be a great advocate and sounding group to help set policy and cast the vision,” Baulch said. “The board isn’t here just to be the overseers and give a few motions and seconds on minutes and financials. Our board is about, ‘Let’s talk about the hard things. Let’s say the things everyone outside of these meetings is talking about. Which of these needs to be something the chamber should advocate for? Which of these are the ones we need to stay in our lane but be positive and promote? What are the things we want to take full control of?”
The chamber’s board of directors is comprised of six Aberdeen, six Amory and nine at-large representatives, in addition to ex-officio members, who are elected officials and local school district superintendents.
Baulch said the background of board members includes a wide array of backgrounds with countywide presences.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has worked with the chamber for strategic planning, and Baulch is excited about the opportunities with it for the incoming board.
“These board members rolling off have played a huge part in the groundwork for setting it off. These new board members coming on will be really the ones to help set the pace and see that through,” she said.
She said one component of the strategic planning deals with retaining young professionals and added five of the nine members of the chamber’s executive board are multi-generational business owners.
“For the first time in a very long time, we have young professionals not only on our board but our executive board. Young professional being under 40,” Baulch said.
The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce’s membership is now more than 300.