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Dayton Chamber investing in community

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    Norma Stephens and Sean Stockard

DAYTON – The Dayton Chamber of Commerce has seen some recent changes, and with those is the introduction of a new executive director, who has high hopes for the future of Dayton and the surrounding community.

Sean Stockard began his time with the chamber in October and, since that time, has had boots on the ground, going out and getting to know chamber members, although he believes they are more than just members.

He was drawn to the opportunity to join the team in Dayton, a dynamic small community set to see unprecedented growth soon.

“ This community, this area, this region is going to really explode,” Stockard said. “ The growth is coming in this direction, and it’s coming at us like a freight train, and it’s important right now for this area, for Dayton, for Liberty, for Liberty County to decide how they want to handle and manage that growth.”

Growth has been the focus for leaders for years now; with the addition of the Grand Parkway and the development of Gulf Inland and new subdivisions in several areas, that growth will undoubtedly define Dayton.

“ I think that the Dayton Chamber of Commerce should be at the forefront and definitely have a seat at that table in deciding what the growth is going to look like and how this part of the county is going to grow into the future,” Stockard said.

Stockard brings an extensive resume focused on economic development, and he believes that experience will extend to his work with the chamber as it address the needs of the current and future business community.

“ Chambers are a part of the economic development world. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. They’re a very important piece of the overall economic development of a community,” Stockard noted.

He believes the chamber has an essential role in the business retention side and should work to address the needs of existing businesses and assist them in continuing to grow and network with the community.

Stockard believes that gives the chamber a responsibility to its “ members- investors,” who are there to do more than just support the organization.

“ They are making a financial investment in this organization, and they can and should expect a f inancia l return,” Stockard said. “ We need to be the mechanism that helps our small businesses get the word out about the products and services that they offer,” he said.

Stockard believes that becoming the networking arm of the southern end of Liberty County is pivotal in that effort by offering substantial opportunities to the entire community.

As for those programming efforts, the board is already planning a strategic planning session this December to examine the organization’s direction.

“ We’re going to lay out what the goals and objectives are for the organization,” said Stockard.

Those efforts wil l benef it Dayton and surrounding communities, with a large focus on the south end of Liberty County as the only chamber in the area.

In the meantime, Stockard has set his sights on 10 quality chamber luncheons that will highlight topics and speakers relevant to the area and four quarterly events that will be fun and highlight networking.

Fans of events like the Taste of Dayton don’t need to worry, which is always a local favorite in the community.

Assisting Stockard is a familiar face, as Norma Stephens will remain an integral part of the chamber as the Director of Administration and Member Investment.

One event already underway will see the chamber team with the Dayton Economic Development Corporation as they work to promote Shop Local efforts this holiday season. The two organizat ions wi l l conduct drawings for several prizes, including a $ 500 gift basket from DEDC and 10 $ 25 gift certif icates from area businesses.

The DEDC basket will consist of goodies from local Dayton businesses, while those gif t cards will feature local Liberty businesses. To qualify, you will need to submit receipts from local small businesses and will receive a chance to win for every receipt of $ 25 or more.

The prizes will be drawn at the Market 535 Christmas at the Crossroads event on Saturday, Nov. 25. For more information on the contest, contact DEDC at 936- 257- 0055 0r email info@ daytontx. com.

“ I’m hopeful that this is the f irst step at letting the merchants here know that this is their chamber,” Stockard said.

With lots happening at the chamber, Stockard is excited to usher in a new era, get things cranking for the local community, and be a leader in representing the business community.

“ I’m just really excited about the potential here, I really am, and I’m really excited about working cooperatively here in Dayton with our small business owners and the community and the leaders here as well as our friends across the river,” Stockard concluded.

For more information on the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, visit www. daytontxchamber. com or call 936- 257- 2393, and make sure to sign up for the Nov. 7 luncheon, as County Judge Jay Knight delivers the State of the County Address.