Scott praises Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 6, 2003

AHOSKIE – They came in celebration of a successful year, but more importantly, they came in thanks that there remained a place to gather.

Exactly one week after Hurricane Isabel left the Roanoke-Chowan area in shambles, members of the guests of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce gathered here at Catherine’s Restaurant for the organization’s annual banquet. That event was originally scheduled for the evening of Sept. 18, the exact day that Isabel vented her fury on the local area, including heavy damage to trees in front of Catherine’s.

But as they say, the show must go on.

In front of a near capacity crowd in the restaurant’s banquet room, Chamber members swapped storm stories before settling in for a night to honor those in charge of economic development in Hertford County’s largest town.

&uot;Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules and making a personal sacrifice to come and show your support, despite the efforts of Hurricane Isabel,&uot; said Chamber of Commerce President Marcus Simmons in his opening remarks.

Simmons praised the work of the Ahoskie Chamber, saying that it helps make a difference in progress of the community by working closely with other organizations such as Roanoke-Chowan Community College, the Hertford County Industrial Development Commission and other Chambers in the local area.

He cited the work of the Ahoskie Chamber’s Executive Director, Arthur Lee Wiggins, secretaries Betty Rawls and Beth Matthews, the Chamber’s Board of Directors and the Women’s Division as examples of that ongoing success.

The guest speaker for the banquet, Mike Scott of the Northeast Partnership, also offered praise for the Ahoskie Chamber.

&uot;I have a great affection for Chambers of Commerce,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve worked with chambers, both big and small, so I can relate to the challenges facing small Chambers of Commerce. I commend you all for your commitment to your community.&uot;

Scott cited the benefits of the Northeast Partnership and the role that organization can play with area Chambers of Commerce. He pointed to tourism development, not just restricted to the Outer Banks, but to all of northeastern North Carolina. He also touted the efforts of leaders in rural areas of the state for their commitment to bring more jobs into their respective communities.

&uot;With Nucor and Wackenhut, Hertford County is leading northeastern North Carolina in new jobs over the past six to seven years,&uot; noted Scott. &uot;But you must realize that this type of economic development was not accomplished by the Department of Commerce in Raleigh or by the Northeast Partnership. It was done right here at the local level.’

Scott pointed out that the Partnership had helped in locating $60-$70 million in grants over the past several years as well as aiding in the creation of 11,000 new jobs. He also revealed that the Partnership was a leader in helping to bring broadband Internet technology to the 16 counties of the northeast region.

&uot;But yet we still face the facts that we live and work in a poverty stricken area of the state, one where lay-offs are still noted and companies still close,&uot; Scott concluded. &uot;But we will not back off; we’ll continue to form business relationships to attract new industry and new jobs.&uot;

As a part of the annual banquet, Ahoskie Chamber officials presented several awards.

Ann Dilday, wife of the late Billy Wayne Dilday, accepted a framed resolution adopted by the Chamber’s Board of Directors in recognition of Mr. Dilday’s long term dedication to the Ahoskie organization.

In part, that resolution read as follows:

&uot;In the passing of Billy Wayne Dilday, the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce has lost a faithful and loyal member. In his many years with the organization, Mr. Dilday’s fellow members paid him the honor of election as President, to the Board of Directors and membership on several Chamber Committees.

&uot;His broad experience, good judgment and wise counsel proved valuable to the progress of Ahoskie, to the work of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce and he won the respect of all with whom he was brought into contact.

&uot;This resolution is a testimonial of our sincere appreciation of his usefulness, not only as a member of this Board of Directors and as a member of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, but also as a citizen of Hertford County.&uot;

Simmons also presented past Chamber president, Pat Barr, with a special plaque of appreciation.