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Christopher Tinsley has been announced as the interim chair of the 'new' Athens Chamber of Commerce.

Tinsley addressed Chamber members and Athens business owners in an open letter as August came to a close. He announced that times are changing and the Chamber has to as well. With the acceptance of the new position came a few demands including the Chamber being completely revamped and rebuilt in every aspect. Changes needed to better fulfill the mission of helping local businesses.

Tinsley, an attorney at Tinsley Law Firm and Trinity Valley Abstract and Title, has voiced concern over the Athens Chamber being stagnant in the way it has operated for 60 years.

“Nothing is sacred,” he said. “Everything is on the table. Everything.”

The  statement was proven by several events being cancelled while the board reevaluates the way things are done and the direction it needs to go.

Traditionally, Chambers of Commerce had a pretty uniform way of doing things. The Athens Chamber started off doing things the way they were done at the time. As time has moved forward, the Chamber has not. Luncheons and a little event now and then may have been enough 50 or 60 years ago, but in today's highly competitive and digital market, it just isn't cutting it.

Technology is advancing and advertising is changing rapidly. It is vital that business people and our community stay ahead of the game. Those that can't keep up often get left behind.

“The business environment in Athens has really changed in the last five to 10 years,” Tinsley said. “The Chamber needs to change to keep up with that. I think it can be a fantastic asset to local business, both small, medium  and large but to do that it's got to change how it goes about it's mission, and that's something I want to be a part of.”

The annual Chamber Gala will bring a new Chairman of the board Beau Humble. Until then Tinsley stated, “We are going to spend every day between now and then examining our traditions and working to create, not only a Chamber of Commerce that you are proud of, but one that was built by you. We want it to be whatever you need it to be.”

This is a welcome change as some have voiced concerns over whether their membership in the chamber is actually helping their business. New leadership and a willing team may be what is needed to turn this around.

“Right now our short term mission, until the chamber gala in January, is to try to get out every board member out as much as we possibly can and talk to businesses one on one and say, What can we do to make your life easier? What is it we can do for you individually? And take those answers and those meetings and use that to figure out what we will become,” Tinsley said. “I don't think the Athens Chamber in 2020 will look anything like what it does now.”

All of the businesses are different, but the Chamber has to be flexible and responsive to accommodate the needs of all different kinds of businesses.

“I'm excited to see the direction it goes and to see the businesses getting some growth, “ said Marisa Gunstanson, Chamber President.

Gunstanson has been visiting businesses, posting videos and hitting the streets asking what can be done to better serve the businesses of Athens.

The Chamber has also asked for business owners to be involved with this new direction. Let them know the good, bad and the ugly truth about what they like and don't like about the chamber.

Be part of the solution and new era in the Athens Chamber of Commerce by offering honest feedback.

What do you need the chamber to be in order to help your business grow?

Please call the chamber at 903-675-5181 or Email Chris@TrinityValleyTitle.com. You can follow the Athens Chamber on Facebook as well.

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