Being the point person in a chamber of commerce is certainly a complicated, diverse and usually busy situation, and could arguably at times be called a thankless job.
Until recently, Houston Area Chamber of Commerce director Brenda Jarrett was faced with trying to make her duties fit into a 10-hour-a-week schedule. But thanks to a deal struck between the chamber and the City of Houston, she’s now able to work 30 hours each week.
“I’m really excited about the extra time,” Jarrett said, “because there was so much to do and no time to do it. The chamber of commerce is supposed to go out and help businesses in the community, and that takes a lot of effort and a lot of time.
“It’s not a normal job.”
The deal involves the city allowing the chamber to use the visitors center building at U.S. 63 and Walnut Street as its headquarters without paying a $400 monthly rental fee as in the past. The funds formerly going toward rent now pay for Jarrett’s expanded time.
“We’re really happy about expanding our director’s hours, because we’re trying to grow our chamber,” said board member Tyler Romines. “I think we have the right person in place, and I think our chamber has a lot of opportunity to expand.”
“I’m grateful Brenda will get to work 30 hours,” said Houston City Council member Sheila Walker. “It will give her much more time to get in touch with our businesses, and to know and meet the needs of businesses in our area, which will make our chamber more successful.
“The council and the chamber have the same goals. We want all businesses to succeed and meet the needs of our citizens.”
“There’s just no way for a chamber director to do an adequate job in 10 hours a week,” said Houston mayor Don Tottingham. “I’m glad to see Brenda get more time, because it will certainly benefit the businesses in the community. And I plan to help in any way I can.”
Jarrett took the chamber director position in February 2014. She was school teacher for 31 years, and she and her husband, Ed, own Jarrett Enterprises, a business that installs hardwood gymnasium floors.
Jarrett said her plans for the year include staging at least one event per month and creating more committees for people to join and be involved planning, organizing and orchestrating those events.
“We really want more involvement and more ideas,” she said.
To attract membership, the Houston chamber is offering a half-price deal for the first year to new members or former members who have been away for a couple of years or more.
“That will help them see what we’re all about and to hopefully get more people involved,” Jarrett said. “We’re hoping to prove to them it’s worth their money and that they’ll stay with us the next year.”
Jarrett said the chamber wants to continue the momentum that is building in the revitalization of downtown Houston. She said downtown events are in the mix.
“You can see a spark there,” she said. “People are trying, and we want to be a part of that. You want your downtown to be a focal point of the community.”
The bottom line is, Jarrett and the chamber board are primed to take a shot at real improvement.
“Expanding Brenda’s hours will pay for itself in the long run,” Romines said. “I think she brings a lot to the community, and this will open things up for her to really do things to benefit Houston.”
“Our job is to promote the community, and everybody needs to know we’re the go-to place for that,” Jarrett said. “That’s what this needs to be all about.”
The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce board includes Gayla Bratton, Tammy Cantrell, Jerad Gentry, Lori Moncrief, Tyler Romines, Bruce Scheets, Richard Steckler, Crystal Stice, Kim Stipanovich and secretary Viki Narancich. To be involved on a committee, volunteer for events or offer suggestions to the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, contact Jarrett or a board a member.
The chamber’s phone number is 417-967-2220.
“I’m really excited about the extra time,” Jarrett said, “because there was so much to do and no time to do it.
–– BRENDA JARRETT
•Valentine’s dinner, Feb. 13.
•Spring bazaar, March 19.
•Gun show, April 2.
•Brushy Creek Days, May 7.
•Golf tournament, May 14.
•Independence Day celebration, July 1.
•Texas County Fair-Old Settlers Reunion, July 20-23.
•Demolition Derby, Aug. 6.
•City-wide yard sale, Sept. 2-3.
•Fall decorating contest, Oct. 28-29.
•Houston holiday bazaar, Nov. 12.
•Taste of Christmas, Nov. 26.
•Tree lighting ceremony, Dec. 9.
•Christmas parade, Dec. 10.