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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Chair Sets 2016 Goals

Posted December 22, 2015

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

The new year will bring with it a change in Wilson Chamber of Commerce leadership as Wes Berry becomes the chamber’s chairman in 2016.

Berry, senior vice president and market president for BB&T in Wilson, has goals for the chamber and its membership in the coming year.

“I think advocacy, leadership and service are the three main focuses,” Berry said, which will help in “increasing chamber membership, strengthening the local economy and helping members grow.

“I really feel like these three areas are where we can make an impact over the next 12 months.”

Berry’s chairmanship will be announced during the Wilson Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Jan. 21. Berry succeeds Christy Proctor, owner of Chick-fil-A in Wilson and the first woman to serve as board chair.

In 2016, the chamber will focus more on advocacy that will involve the creation of a public policy agenda. The primary mission of the agenda will be to strengthen existing businesses and to encourage new economic activity in Wilson. The nonpartisan agenda will contain discussion points that are relevant to area businesses and will be used when members or chamber officials talk with elected officials. Chamber leaders plan to ask for feedback from the business community and its membership as the agency is created and developed.

“We’re going to put together public policy so the chamber membership can have a collective voice on any pending legislation or anything that can help strengthen our local businesses now,” Berry said. “We need some constructive ideas and feedback from our members and non-members in the Wilson community in order for us to identify opportunities for growth and new ideas.”

Berry said he is interested in placing a greater emphasis on leadership development in the new year.

“(We want to) provide opportunities for people to reach their full potential because not everyone’s full potential is being the head of an organization, but they could be a good manager for an organization,” he said. “There are various levels of leadership.”

The chamber will continue its support of three leadership development programs — the Chamber Young Leaders, the chamber’s Dynamic Leadership class and Impact Initiative, a joint project of Wilson 20/20 Community Vision, the Wilson Economic Development Council and the chamber.

“The Young Leaders program can be an integral part of a larger, community-wide workforce development strategy to attract and retain millennials to Wilson,” Berry said. “The Dynamic Leadership program is coordinated through the chamber and helps to expose business people to the Wilson community and what makes Wilson work.”

Impact Initiative identifies future leaders that are ready to serve in appointed and elected positions.

“All of these programs offer a unique set of priorities and target different groups of potential leaders,” Berry said.

The chamber will also focus on service during 2016. The chamber plans to work toward increasing the level of engagement of the board and its membership to ensure the chamber is delivering value to the Wilson community, Berry said.

“There are approximately 1,737 businesses in Wilson, and we have 450 members,” Berry said. “That leaves a lot of businesses that do not see value in the chamber. We have to engage them in a conversation and understand the needs of members and non-members.”

In addition to the chamber, Berry is a member of the Wilson Rotary Club and previously served on the Wilson Education Partnership board. He is a board member for Wilson Downtown Properties and the SPOT. He is also a member of First United Methodist Church.

His interest in serving on the chamber board is linked to his lifelong interest in business, including small businesses. Growing up in Rocky Mount, Berry worked at his parent’s small business.

“I just enjoy being around business people,” Berry said. “I just enjoy talking about the economy, and I want Wilson to have a thriving economy. I’ve always been interested in how businesses are run, the risks people take to grow their business and the mindset (people have) to become successful business people.”

Ryan Simons, president of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber benefited during Proctor’s leadership in 2015, and he anticipates another successful year in 2016.

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside chair Christy Proctor,” Simons said. “She made history by being the first woman to serve as chair of our board of directors, but her most valuable legacy continues to be the selflessness with which she conducts business and serves Wilson.

“I’m equally excited to welcome Wes Berry as our chair for 2016. Wes is someone keen to the needs of our business community, and is an excellent representative of one of the foremost business names in Wilson, BB&T. He’s experienced the dynamics of markets comparable to Wilson, and he will no doubt bring a new perspective on how we can best deliver value to our members.”

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