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Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce continues to grow numbers and influence

The Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce continues to grow in membership numbers and influence in Pearl River County, but don’t think for a single minute the leadership is satisfied based on the message at the the 71st Annual Awards Banquet last Thursday night.

During the gathering, outgoing Chamber President Ms. Misty Toruno highlighted the noteworthy accomplishments and successes of the chamber this past year.

Toruno said the the chamber adopted a new set of bylaws and she recognized William “Bill” Cruse for his dedication in leading this effort.

She reminded the audience that the chamber provided four $1,250 scholarships, two each to Picayune Memorial High School and Pearl River Central High School, with the funds coming directly from the chamber’s car raffle.

Working closely with Ms. Morgan Cruse (PRC) and Ms. Wendy Bracey (PMHS), the chamber hosted the first Student Leadership Summit for 15 high school students from Picayune and Pearl River Central to allow them to spend a day brainstorming on what they see as the obstacles in making Picayune and Pearl River County a better place to work, live, shop, and get educated.

The chamber hosted a raffle for a Disney gift card and is currently in the middle of a 50/50 raffle that could be worth $50,000 to the winner (payout if all 1,000 tickets are sold). This fundraiser will benefit scholarships for the coming school year for 2020 graduates of Picayune Memorial and Pearl River Central high schools.

Toruno told of two first time dinner events, one for the entire chamber membership at Sunroamers RV Park and another one for chamber corporate sponsors at Southern Char Steakhouse Restaurant.

The chamber held a golf tournament spearheaded by Stewart Huey.

Misty Toruno reviews the past year's accomplishments

Toruno said the chamber ended the year in great financial shape and previewed a chamber directory that will be coming out in January 2020. She stated that the chamber currently stands 329 voting members with a goal of 500 by the end of 2020.

The chamber has 48 corporate sponsors and the current goal being 50 by the end of 2019. The corporate sponsors have grown from 8 to the current 48 in the last two years according to Toruno.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Executive Director Terry Farr challenged the membership to continue to promote the mission of the chamber by taking advantage of the benefits of being a member of the chamber and helping grow the number of chamber memberships.

Farr said said the chamber is going to hold an economic development forum and will invite the county’s economic development council, the city leadership, county leadership, and possibly the homebuilders and realtors.

“It’s time to move forward with economic development folks. We need to move forward,” Farr said passionately.

Farr asked Dylan Littles, a student at PMHS, to join him at the podium. Farr told the membership that Littles was a participant in the Student Leadership Summit and will someday be a great leader. Farr challenged the chamber to continue to work together to make Picayune and Pearl River County so bright, fine young leaders like Littles with sharp minds will not leave the area, but stay in the area to live and work because they see the opportunities.

Dylan Littles with Terry Farr

“We don’t need to lose kids like this. We’ve got to figure out how to keep our future leaders here in Pearl River County,” Farr said.

Farr said that growing the membership is not about the money to him personally at his age, but with the money that can be generated with a membership of 500, the chamber can get a lot of things done in the business community.

“When we get 500 members, we are going to move some mountains. People are going to start saying 'we might ought to look at moving into Pearl River County'.”

Farr reiterated that his goal is to make Pearl River County the best place to live, shop, play, and get educated.

Farr asked the approximately 200 chamber members present at the banquet to help find one new member and he, along with his executive assistant Ms. Laci Lee, will make up the difference in getting to 500 members by the end of 2020.

In closing, Farr thanked Toruno for her leadership this year as well as Mark Stockstill for his diligence in serving as Secretary/Treasurer. Farr said he was excited about the coming year with new board members and incoming Chamber President Greg Mitchell. Jr. who served as Vice President this past year.

Farr recognized Donnie Pascal and Diamond Productions for their superb work in promoting and making all chamber events special with their audio visual production services.

He also thanked his executive assistant Laci Lee for her efforts in all aspects of the operation of the chamber.


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