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New Chamber President


The News and Farmer

Avery Berry, President of Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce

Avery Berry of Midville took over the Jefferson County Chamber President position Monday, July 11, four months after the former president, Amy Howard, stepped down to pursue personal business ventures. 

Berry has spent her first few days in the office catching up on emails, meeting community leaders and getting acquainted with the community and programs the chamber has run in previous years. 

“We are thrilled to have her here and ready to turn her loose on the community,” said Lil Easterlin, the Jefferson County Development Authority’s Executive Administrative Director. “We went four months without a chamber person just as we were coming out of the pandemic, just when the chamber was trying to gear back up and have a lot more face-to-face events. It has put us on another extended hiatus. Avery has a lot to plough through and we’re excited to have her here.” 

Berry said she is ready to dive right in. 

“I love being involved in communities, meeting new people,” she said.

Berry grew up in neighboring Emanuel County and while attending Swainsboro High School participated in a work-based learning program with Emanuel County’s Chamber of Commerce. While there she worked on a number of projects including its annual Pine Tree Festival. 

She graduated from Valdosta State University with a degree in public relations and is excited about being able to put those skills to work in her new position.

“There are so many ways to be creative, and there are so many things you can do with public relations; you can do marketing, you can do graphic design, you can be out there in the public, event planning,” Berry said. “My main focus in undergrad was on event planning. It’s constantly changing with social media and all the new trends that come in. You can engage with a lot of different people. Working with the chamber involves so many aspects of that.”

The Chamber President’s position was designed as a community developer that is hired by the Jefferson County Development Authority, works with that department in some roles, but primarily answers to the Chamber Board of Directors and runs the chamber’s programs. 

While the Development Authority and the Chamber work hand-in-hand to support and attract local businesses, increase the number of area jobs and increase the tax base, the authority focuses more on industry (large employers) while the chamber focuses on community engagement and small business. 

“We wanted to get someone in here (in the chamber position) who knows how to work in a community,” Easterlin said. “She didn’t have to know everybody, but we were looking for that personality, that instinct and that desire to get out into the community. The chamber isn’t restricted in what it can do the way the authority is. It can look around at the community’s needs and decide which ones it can serve. Now the chamber’s job will be to decide what type of programming makes the most sense.”  

One of Berry’s first missions will be to look at membership and reach out to the businesses who have not been contacted over the last four months.  

“I think the county is in a position now to do some outside marketing that will bring people into the county,” Easterlin said. “Our downtowns in Wrens, Wadley, Bartow and Louisville have interesting shops. We have festivals and events that are coming back. I think it’s time to start reaching out.

The chamber board will be meeting soon with Berry to begin planning for this year’s programming. During the pandemic, much of that programming was restricted to virtual meetings, which saved the agency some money and has left it in a stable place financially, Easterlin said.  

“I am really excited about this position and what I can bring to Jefferson County,” Berry said. “I ‘m ready to get in there and rock and roll, see what we can start up.”


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