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Home / Your Chamber / 2022 Annual Dinner Recap / President's Address: Gary Blake


Ashland Board President, Gary Blake

Pivot – Retool – Innovate – Collaborate – Embrace change

No matter how you slice it, we all had to do it and have found efficiencies and strength as we continue transforming our work and redefining our mission. When the pandemic first hit in March of 2020, the Chamber immediately reached out to our partners and businesses forming working groups such as the:

  • Ashland Economic Recovery Team to advocate for resources and programs for small business and to immediately share them broadly
  • The Gating Committee to share ever changing regulations and health concerns from COVID
  • We created the Summer Celebration with outdoor dining and gathering spaces downtown after consulting with our members and City collaboration
  • We became official Technical Assistance providers for state resources such as the distribution of tens of thousands of free PPE - personal protection equipment
  • We wrote and received local, regional and state grants to expand programs to help our small businesses and evaluate changes in the economy such as the video series – The Language of Business on financial literacy
  • Travel Ashland commissioned a deep visitor analysis, rebranded and launched an entirely new marketing strategy and brand platform       
  • As climate change, fires and smoke affected our community, our Emergency Preparedness committee created videos, Tool Kits and materials to help our businesses and community prepare and respond
  • Our office volunteers stepped up and provided front desk coverage
  • Flower baskets continued to beautify and grace the downtown through Chamber sponsorship
  • Greeters continued to meet via Zoom for nearly 100 Fridays – now back in person along with Ribbon cuttings
  • Through a grant from SOREDI, we conducted a thorough study of the economy in order to diversify and strengthen the community through the development of new pillars, action steps and direction for 2023 and beyond
  • Legislative Committee conducted Zoom Conference calls with our state officials and recently filmed Candidates Forums shown on website and RVTV
When 2022 arrived, we realized we could bring back some of our beloved community events and programs.
  • The staff really stepped up to bring back the 4th of July - particularly Dana Preston, Dana Welsh and Katharine Cato. With tremendous support from Meiwen Richards and Officer Steve MacLennan for the parade with Daniel Perry and Jacob Hillman-Whalen music at the bandshell
  • Now, we are bringing back the Children’s Halloween Parade and the Festival of Light complete with lighting and decorating the town, Santa’s arrival with all his friends and promoting the holidays in Ashland far and wide.
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