Updated: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 18:18

New Chamber chairman gets gavel

Randy Thompson/For Savannah Morning News
Jenny Gentry, right, accepts a gavel from Bill Shira to succeed him as chairman of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday during the organization’s annual meeting. Gentry is the Savannah market president for Wells Fargo bank and Shira is Gulfstream’s vice president of marketing.
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Encouraging local business owners to “roll up their sleeves” and “continue to make Savannah the best city in America,” Jenny Gentry on Thursday assumed the chairmanship of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Savannah market president for Wells Fargo bank succeeds Bill Shira, Gulfstream’s vice president of marketing, as the Chamber’s board leader. Gentry accepted the chairman’s gavel from Shira during the organization’s annual meeting at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort.

Shira praised Gentry for her “infectious personality” in introducing her to the membership.

Gentry’s enthusiasm showed as she shared her 2013 outlook.

“2012 was a great year, and you can expect no less next year,” Gentry said. “We’re expecting to continue the economic rebound, although it will be slow.”

During the meeting, Chamber leaders reflected on the past year while looking forward to 2013.

Chamber membership grew by 1 percent in 2012, and the retention rate grew to 89 percent.

The organization put on more than 30 events attended by more than 7,200 members in 2012.

Networking remains the “No. 1 benefit” for Chamber members, Shira said.

“People do business with people they know,” Shira said.

Shira outlined the Chamber’s 2012 successes, including its efforts to garner more state funding for the Savannah Harbor deepening project, the graduation of 41 new Leadership Savannah students and the tourism increases spearheaded by Visit Savannah, a Chamber arm.

“Visit Savannah continues to hit home runs all the time,” Shira said.

Thursday’s luncheon was the 206th annual meeting of the Savannah Chamber.

SAVANNAH AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2012 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Chairman: Jenny Gentry, Wells Fargo

Past chairman: Bill Shira, Gulfstream

Chairman-elect: Toby Moreau, BB&T

Secretary-treasurer: Trey Cook, Savannah Tire

Visit Savannah chairman: Jack Bussert, River Street Inn

Savannah Chamber CEO: William Hubbard

Walter Chastang, International Paper

Terry Enoch, One Hundred Black Men

Patrick Graham, Savannah Airport Commission

Sam McCachern, Thomas & Hutton

Stephen S. Green, Stephen Green Properties

Diana Morrison, Advertising Specialties

Scott Snipes, Hyatt Regency Savannah

Michael C. Traynor, Savannah Morning News

Whip Triplett, North Point Hospitality

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