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Longview Metro Chamber of Commerce approves officers, board

By Richard Yeakley
June 5, 2013 at 10 p.m.

An exuberant Eddie Towles welcomed about 30 people into his Gilmer Road phone center Tuesday for the first official meeting of the Longview Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Towles, who was a part of the original metro chamber when it was chartered in 1984, said many young entrepreneurs joined the group, but were so busy with their companies they failed to invest.

Now 30 years later, Towles told the crowd of potential chamber members, those same entrepreneurs now plan to share their knowledge and passion with the next generation to help South Longview, and consequently all of Longview, flourish.

"This is a new day. I am so happy. I am so excited about this Chamber of Commerce because we have got board members, people involved in this Chamber of Commerce who have got years and year and years and years - I am talking about 20, 25 years - of successful experience. We are now able to share and help new entrepreneurs in business," Towles said.

At the meeting members of the chamber officially approved pre-selected board members. Those board members then finalized the volunteer officers who will oversee the chamber's business.

Tony Powell, a longtime Longview businessman who now owns a company that produces grave markers, was named chairman of the 10-person board and president of the organization.

Towles was named vice president.

The vice president reiterated the Chamber's stated goal to work alongside the established Longview Chamber of Commerce and to focus on the South Longview businesses.

"We can work with the Longview Chamber of Commerce. We can work and assist then in making Longview a better place, and I am so excited about that," Towles said.

About 20 companies were represented at the inaugural meeting, but several people in attendance were not associated with any company.

Martha Sanders-Fautheree, who has lived in South Longview for nearly 50 years, said she paid her $50 annual membership and joined the chamber because she believes it can help businesses.

"I have seen it up, and it has gone, and I would like to see it come back," Sanders-Fautheree said.

The woman said she remembered when South Longview was the center of town and the place to be.

Sanders-Fautheree said the biggest challenge for the new chamber would not be business related.

"This is not business related and I don't how you would go about doing it, but getting people to be more proud of where they live, that will make a difference" she said.

Leslie Harold, who owns I'd Rather Lather, which sells bath soaps, salts and essentials joined the chamber Tuesday with a business membership.

"I like their mission to help support and network small businesses across the city," Harold said.

Muckelroy said the chamber's next goal is to attract members with a goal of 100 companies by the end of summer.

Metro Chamber leaders said they hoped to meet on a monthly basis and in addition to doing "chamber business" work on the basics of owning a business.

At Tuesday's meeting, several members practiced their "elevator pitches" - 30 second introductions to their businesses.



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