Chamber of Commerce clarifies decision to no longer host Christmas Parade, Covered Bridge Celebration

Published 8:34 am Monday, November 18, 2019

The Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce held a press conference at noon Friday after word got out the chamber would no longer be hosting and organizing several community events, such as the Christmas Parade and the Covered Bridge Celebration.

Chairman David LeVeau said the decision came after discussing the chamber’s strategic plan for the future.

“These were certainly difficult decisions,” LeVeau said. “We take great pride in leading several community events.”

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He said they wanted to focus the chamber’s efforts on several key things, including business development, workforce development and education. These community events, he said, did not fit well in these categories.

The chamber has hosted events like the parade and celebration for many years.

“The mission has evolved for us,” LeVeau said.

He said this is “purely a refocus,” and not any major depletion of resources.

The chamber has operated as its own non-profit even when it was under Carter County Tomorrow, which it broke away from roughly two years ago.

He said they want to use this refocus to encourage both potential new members and current members to get involved.

“The chamber is excited about the future,” he said.

He said efforts to fulfill this new focus include plans to host a Women’s Leadership Conference in the spring, among other efforts.

“We want to increase their value,” he said of the chamber’s members.

Part of this focus on new membership, he said, is due to their numbers, which show current membership has been “fairly flat” recently.

As for the events themselves, while LeVeau said they are in talks with several groups interested in taking the reins, he said he could not disclose those organizations publicly just yet.

While the chamber will still organize this year’s parade, giving a potential successor a full year to determine how to proceed, the Covered Bridge Celebration has a tighter deadline, and LeVeau said that event can take months to put together.

“I think we will have the event,” he said. “It might have some differences. We think some group will step up.”

He said these events have not fit into their framework for a while, but they continued to host them because they “just wanted to make sure it happened.”