Letter to the Editor

An opportunity and a challenge

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Editorís Note: Chris Claybaker is the economic development director for the city of Berryville.

Dear Community and Business Leaders:

The pandemic has caused such havoc in all our lives. Weíve seen friends and neighbors get sick, and some have died. Some of us have seen friends lose their jobs, and others struggle to keep their heads above water. Personally, isolation from contact with someone with COVID forced me to miss being with my wife on our 50th wedding anniversary! Itís been particularly hard on our retail and service businesses. And it has hit our Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce in an extreme way, too. With the retirement of the Chamberís executive director, the Chamber has experienced a double whammy, forcing us to search for a new director at a time when Chamber funds are at an all-time COVID low.

If we are to continue the momentum the Chamber has been building over the past 5 years, we must be able to attract a person with the right skills and abilities. To be able to attract the right person for Chamber exec, it will require us to show financial stability. However, we canít demonstrate that stability at present.† The pandemic caused a cease in the Chamberís ability to raise non-dues revenue.


We have the opportunity to hire a professional with all the qualifications to take us to the next level in a quality chamber of commerce, and this person has a personal interest in Berryville. But we need to be able to properly compensate before the next chamber director has a chance to kickstart fund raising. The simple truth is, itís impossible to operate our Chamber on membership dues alone. So, how do we demonstrate financial stability during these crazy pandemic times in order to hire this professional?


Although the pandemic hasnít spared my family of our own personal hardships, we have not seen an interruption in our finances. I have been blessed with the continuation of retirement benefits and a regular paycheck from the City of Berryville so my COVID relief check went into savings. Knowing the importance of the Chamber to the city and our local businesses, I have doubled the payment of my Chamber dues, and Iím donating my $600 COVID relief check to the chamber. My challenge to you, if you have been spared the financial hardship of COVID, is to reach a little deeper this year. Double your Chamber payment this year. If your business has done particularly well during the pandemic, consider a larger contribution to your Chamber. This can actually be an opportunity for us to further invest in our community and to bring a seasoned professional with ties to Berryville on as our new Chamber director.

Thank you for your support,

ó Chris Claybaker