THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Chamber of Commerce: New president starts by listening
By Jackie R. Broach
The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce’s 95th annual banquet and awards ceremony tonight will for many county residents offer a first glimpse of the Chamber’s new president and CEO, Brian Tucker.
Sixteen days in the county and on the job for exactly nine business days, Tucker has spent most of July meeting new people and trying to put names with faces. That’s step one in figuring out what his future goals will be, but he still has a long way to go, he admits.
“I’m trying to meet as many people as I can, really,” said Tucker, who is the former president of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce. “I’m getting to know members of the staff and what they do, and I’m getting out to meet Chamber members, people in local government and shareholders, and beginning to build those relationships as quickly as possible.
“The point is not only to get to know everybody, but to try to begin to understand what the issues are within the Chamber and the broader community. I’m listening right now and then I’ll begin formulating a position, a path forward for how we address those issues. That’s really the core of what this organization is about: making life better tomorrow than it was today.”
Tucker replaces Annette Medlin, who led the Georgetown County Chamber for seven years and left the organization last month to move to Greenville and help run a new membership development company.
Tucker was selected from about two dozen qualified applicants from across the nation based on his résumé and a two-day interview. The Chamber’s board chairman, Will Howard, remarked on Tucker’s “wonderful personality” and ability to “reach out to a broad spectrum of the community and bring everybody together” in the common goal of making the county a better place to live and work.
He seems to have that ability to draw people in, and he’s also very grounded. I think our staff will really enjoy working with him,” Howard said.
A life-long South Carolinian, Tucker grew up in Lancaster and is a 1997 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in financial management. He worked in mortgage loans before joining the North Augusta Chamber.
He and his wife, Margaret, live in the Litchfield area and have two daughters, Margaret Ann, 10, and Lily, 8. Both girls will attend Waccamaw schools and their parents intend to be active in their education and the school system, as they have always been.
The Tuckers lived in North Augusta for 13 years, since their marriage, but they see Georgetown County as an ideal place to make their home and continue raising their family.
“There are a number of variables in why we wanted to move here,” Tucker said. “We love the history of the area and, obviously, we love the coast. That’s a definite draw. Anybody who sits in this seat and tells you it’s not is lying.
“I see a tremendous amount of potential in the City of Georgetown, but also the Waccamaw Neck area and the county as a whole,” he continued. “There are tons of natural resources here, and I don’t limit that to the water. It’s the history, the heritage, the charm and the character of the city and the county.”
Tucker and his wife love small towns and living in a place where everybody knows everybody else.
“Regardless of what we’re like during the summertime, we’re still a small town and that’s appealing to us,” he said. “We want to raise our children in an environment where neighbors are still neighbors. Having a county-wide chamber versus a municipal chamber and still being able to maintain that small town lifestyle is a huge draw.”
While he’s still working on getting to know the area and its residents and issues, he did name several areas he knows will be part of his focus in the future: dredging of the port, economic development, and creating alliances and partnerships on the economic development, education and tourism fronts.
In the meantime, if people recognize him out and about, he said to feel free to stop him and say hi, though he warns they’ll probably have to remind him of their names.
“I’m horrible with names,” he admits.