Local Journalist Reflects on 2022 Chamber Annual Mixer
The Hopewell/Prince George Chamber of Commerce held its annual mixer at the Jordan Point Marina for the second year.
Attendants mingled on the dock and appreciated the crisp October day out on the water. The John Fetherston Band strummed classic rock tunes, influencing many to sing along and sway to the familiar beat. This mixer is an opportunity for organizations who belong to the chamber to team build and network during a casual event.
Nicole Fernandez, a member of the HPG Board of Directors and a business banker at Touchstone Bank, headquartered in Prince George, said, “A lot of times when we are meeting it is because there is a specific goal in mind. So this is an opportunity for us to relax and get to know each other.”
Vice President of the HPG Chamber Dana Newcomer echoed Fernandez’s claims.
“We put together these types of events so that we can build relationships within our community, welcome newcomers, and ultimately we are able to collaborate and enjoy our local venues,” she said.
Past mixers were more formal rather than business casual. Instead of a cocktail party and a river cruise, attendees might have had a sit-down dinner with speakers. TJ Webb, who serves on the PG Board of Supervisors, sees the benefits of both event styles.
“When you go to something where you are sitting, you don’t have as many opportunities to get up and mingle,” said Linda Webb, TJ’s wife of 20-plus years.
Since the event is held after business hours, people feel more comfortable having a glass of wine—featuring local wines from Upper Shirley Vineyards and The Boathouse at City Point—while they meet new people and connect with community leaders.
“It gets people out and around to places in the county they haven’t been,” TJ added. Many attendees had never been to the Jordan Point Marina—some even admitted that they did not know it existed.
“That’s the real reason why I’m here: to bring this marina up,” said Cody Cole, the manager of the marina for the last year and a half. One of his plans is to build a bar at the marina, similar to The Lily Pad in Richmond.“It needs a lot of attention and I am here to give it just that. [I’m] making it a destination for people.”
For Cole, hosting the event was a way to build awareness of the marina as well as grow his professional network to help solidify the vision for the marina.
“Everyone who’s here is contributing to daily life, recreation, and fun here in the county. So you will see all of these organizations, when you’re driving down the road. Together all of us make up the business community” he said. “A lot of time that is overlooked. It is important to interact with them.”
Sarah Tubaugh, an administrator at Riverview on the Appomattox, was attending the mixer for the first time. Like Cole, her team was excited for the opportunity to build closer relationships with other businesses.
Tubaugh’s main goal is to partner with businesses to enhance educational outreach and “teach students what it might be like to work at a health and educational center.” She also says she wants to discover more ways to reach the Hopewell community and tell residents about the rehabilitation services offered at Riverview on the Appomattox.
Unlike Tubaugh, WestRock worker and HPG Board member Jeremiah Johnson was attending the mixer for the second year in a row. And although he sported a boot from a recent injury, he thoroughly enjoyed connecting with his fellow employees and meeting new people throughout the night.
Johnson serves on two committees within the board: industrial outreach and governmental public relations. As a veteran, Johnson wants to see more services and opportunities for people transitioning out of military service in Hopewell and Prince George.
“You go to some cities and locations and the chamber doesn‘t really do anything. They just get together and talk. We try to put our mission statement to work and help people learn about resources and services so they don’t have to venture out of this area to get what they are looking for,” he said.
By 7 p.m., as the sun disappeared behind the water, people began to filter to their cars to head home. With fresh connections, maybe a new customer, in their minds, we saw people pull away, energized with new ideas to enhance their businesses and new resources. By all accounts, I’d say the mixer was a success!
And that is the mission of the HPG Chamber. The board wants to make Hopewell and Prince George destinations on the map. They also want citizens to be excited and proud to call the localities home.
Article was written by MaryCatherine Neal November 2022.