Urging current Savannah Chamber of Commerce members to continue their involvement and new members to come on board, Jay Neely assumed the chairmanship of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Neely, vice president for law and public affairs for Gulfstream, succeeds Sam McCachern, president of Thomas & Hutton, as board leader. Neely accepted the chairman’s gavel from McCachern during the chamber’s 211th Annual Meeting at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort.
“Jay is a wonderful leader, and I know the chamber is going to be in good hands with Jay,” McCachern said, before outlining Neely’s civic involvement, which includes serving as chairman for the Georgia Department of Economic board of directors, sitting on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce board and serving on the Telfair Board of Trustees among others.
“Jay’s unique experience positions him well to be our chamber chair next year,” he said.
Thanking past and present board member and community leaders, Neely said he didn’t get to the podium alone.
“When I see a turtle on top of a fencepost, one thing is a sure bet, he didn’t get there by himself,” Neely said, quoting former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller.
“As I stand here on this fence post, I’m very appreciative of the Sam McCacherns of the world and his predecessors in office as chairman and appreciative of the chamber, Bill Hubbard and the world class team that he leads.”
During the meeting, McCachern reflected on the chamber’s 2017 accomplishments, which included more than 40 ribbon cuttings and the addition of more than 200 new members while maintaining an 89 percent retention rate for the fifth year in a row. The chamber also hosted more than 40 networking events.
Looking ahead to his term, Neely said that while Savannah faces many challenges there are also plenty of opportunities ahead in 2018, including carrying on the organizations newly developed strategic plan, which focuses on numerous priorities, including governmental advocacy, supporting small business growth and most importantly to Neely, workforce development.
“If we can solve the workforce development problem, if we can crack that nut, not only will we give opportunities to individuals of this community who might not otherwise have an opportunity, in the process we’ll solve scores and scores of other problems,” Neely said.