Despite a collapse that sank businesses and careers and flooded communities with home foreclosures, there are positive signs locally of a healthy landing, Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce officials said.
"In these tough economic times, our membership increased and we had the biggest job expo we've ever had in 2008," outgoing Chamber Chairman Mark Sullivan said.
"I think that shows the value of chamber membership," he added. "It provides our members a way to get out and advance their business and increase awareness of their business. It's a great networking tool."
Mr. Sullivan, president of the Northwest Georgia Bank, will turn over the reins of leadership on Thursday to incoming Chairman David Wilson.
Mr. Wilson, president and owner of Wilson Funeral Homes, will outline his agenda for the coming year during the luncheon meeting at the Colonnade Civic Center. The event is open to the public.
Chamber officials also plan to unveil a new logo.
"One reason we are changing the logo is because the old one is three colors and was expensive to print," Mr. Wilson said. "We want to show members how little changes like that can save money and be more effective."
Mr. Wilson said the chamber is optimistic about the new leadership in Catoosa County. Keith Greene, who was elected chairman in November, will lead his first commission meeting Tuesday.
"We are looking forward to working with him and also with the Northwest Georgia joint development authority, which Catoosa County just recently joined," Mr. Wilson said. "We feel like that we will be able to attract some of the suppliers or businesses that will follow the VW plant (planned to start production in Chattanooga in 2011)."
The Chamber's recognitions for 2008 include the Entrepreneur Friendly designation from the state Small Business and Innovation Division in April. The Catoosa Chamber was one of more than 100 chambers recognized for attention and support of small businesses.
The Chamber also published a new brochure, developed in partnership with the county, aimed at advertising Catoosa's role as "Gateway to Georgia."
The brochure, on display at state welcome centers, touts such tourist attractions as the Ringgold Depot, Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.