On Thursday, March 16, Benton County/Camden Chamber of Commerce members and guests gathered at Camden First Assembly church on Hwy. 70 W. in Camden to celebrate another year of economic and community endeavors in Benton County. Let by Chamber Director Lorie Matlock, the event was big success.
“A year ago, I had only been with the Chamber a few months. I had no clue how to run a Chamber of Commerce, but I took a leap of faith and asked God for His guidance,” Matlock said. “A year later I have a much better understanding of our Chamber operations and God has truly blessed me.”
Matlock thanked retiring Chamber assistant Reba Robins for her encouragement and guidance. She also noted her appreciation for the members of the Chamber Board for giving their time, having a vision for the Chamber, and having faith in her leadership.
“This community is blessed to have civic minded leaders such as our Chamber Board members,” Matlock said. “I also appreciate our many Chamber members for your entrepreneurship, leadership, and for supporting the Chamber. The Benton County/Camden Chamber of Commerce is defiantly on the rise.”
Since last year, the Chamber has added new computers, computer software, a Chamber E-newsletter, and increased its social media presence with a goal to be bigger and better than ever. The Chamber strives to be a strong force that advocates for small businesses and community growth, partners with city and county officials, the IDB Board, the TRRD Board, and local businesses to create a shared agenda that will allow everyone to work together to tackle both the opportunities and challenges facing Benton County.
In the past year, the Chamber has implemented successful networking opportunities such as the Chamber Coffee social and “shop local” campaigns. Chamber membership is up by 63 percent since Matlock took office, and they have done a lot of ribbon cuttings.
The Chamber will continue to collaborate with Economic Development Director Jennifer Wheatley and is looking forward to the Benton County Tourism Roadmap Session with the Tenn. Dept. of Tourist Development on April 19 and a Benton County Multi-Employer Job Fair on April 27.
“A lot of progress has been made, but there are still challenges to tackle!” Matlock concluded. “This is a crucial time for our community as we prepare for and experience growth. We work to bring improvements to our community through business development, community events, and industrial growth. I ask you tonight to get involved, share your ideas, and most of all support each other and our community. Now let’s celebrate our business community by presenting a few awards.”
The evening proceeded with recipients being given the 2023 New Business of the Year Award, Business of the Year Award, the John Latham Tourism Award, the Stanley Hooten Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber. These awards honor businesses and individuals who have contributed to the quality of life in Benton County and displayed character, integrity, and dedication to the community. Award recipients are named in each of the photos accompanying this article.