‘Fear of change’ biggest hurdle for growth, says new chamber director
The Granby Chamber of Commerce last week welcomed its new director, former retail owner Jessica Blair, who brings social media savvy and marketing experience to the position.
Blair enters her new position as chamber director after moving to the county earlier this month. Blair joins the Granby Chamber with an extensive administrative background — working for the Clovis Unified School District in Fresno — and a deep understanding of the value of social media marketing. It is her personal business experience, however, developed over multiple years operating her own retail store in southwestern Georgia along with other ventures, that she sees are her greatest strength in her new role.
“My strongest asset is my entrepreneurial background,” Blair said. “I have owned and operated several local small businesses in small towns. This is a bit of a switch from education but the administrative side is mostly the same, you are managing people, connecting people.”
Blair owned and operated for several years an upscale re-sale shop, similar to a consignment shop, called The Verge in Albany, Ga., specializing in used and vintage high-end clothing.
Blair noted the uniqueness of role Granby’s Chamber fills in the community, as compared to chambers in other states.
“Our chamber is unique in how it operates,” Blair said. “A huge part of our day is the visitor’s bureau. We get people calling in from all over the world asking for information; everything from tourism down to, ‘where can I rent a Porta-Potty?’”
For Blair, the top priority as chamber director is helping local businesses grow and expand.
“My responsibility as director is to bring businesses to the next level,” she said. “To help them find creative ways to market themselves and increase revenue and exposure.” She highlighted establishing connections between local businesses as another primary function of a Chamber Director.
Blair said she sees the natural resources and world class recreational options, coupled with the quaint unique small town charm as Granby’s greatest strengths.
“People want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, even if it is only temporary,” Blair said. “Granby is one of those places that is still untouched, and is still very affordable.”
She said she sees fear of change as the biggest challenge impeding economic growth in the community.
“There are always people who are fearful of change,” she said. “But I think there is a way to channel change and how things are changing, so it doesn’t turn out the way people fear it will. Change is inevitable in all things so when people want things to stay one way, that won’t happen. We just have to figure out a way to make smart changes and preserve what we have.”
Blair moved to Granby this month along with her husband, Aaron Blair, who was hired as Granby’s new town manager.
“We pulled into town Sunday night,” Jessica Blair noted. “We only had time for dinner. We both started working the very next morning. It has been kind of a whirlwind.”
Jessica was born and raised in the Cincinnati area right on the border with Kentucky. As such Blair says she grew up with a culture heavily influenced by southern rural ways of life.
“I grew up in the country,” she said. “We had horses, we would all hunt and fish.” She jokingly referred to her roots as “redneck” and added, “Ohio is a good place, really good people there.”
Moving forward this year Blair is focusing her efforts on getting the Chamber reorganized after nearly two months without a formal Chamber Director. She says she hopes to help establish local meet-up groups that would regularly participate in activities together like trial hiking, sort of like civic organizations centered around outdoor activities.
Looking further into the future Blair says she hopes to bring in some new events to Granby and specifically highlighted the potential for establishing marathon or half-marathon races in the community in years to come.
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