Terry Banez, interim executive director of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance’s Business Council, spoke to members of the city’s business community about her plans for the group in 2019 at the EDA’s monthly roundtable luncheon Tuesday.
At the meeting, Banez detailed the steps she’s taken since stepping into the role last August. She said that, in the wake of Senate Bill 942, the Chamber & Tourism Alliance restructured by establishing the two council groups.
“The GWCTA is the overarching business, and then there is a Tourism Council and Business Council, so there needs to be the GWCTA and that’s what the Business and Tourism Councils fall under,” she said.
Banez leads the Business Council, and said the Tourism Council is currently looking for an executive director. She said the group that she oversees is mainly focused on bolstering local businesses, while the Tourism Council will work to promote overnight tourism to the area.
“It’s really representing, servicing and enhancing business growth in the Greater Williamsburg area,” Banez said to the city’s business community. “The Business Council is here for the businesses in Williamsburg, and the Tourism Council is really focused on driving overnight stays.”
In 2019, Banez said her goals for the Business Council include establishing a set of bylaws and gathering a 26-member leadership board. She also detailed a slate of new and revamped events and organizations meant to foster networking and growth opportunities for businesses in the area.
These events include new monthly programs specifically focused on underrepresented members of the local business community, such as women and young professionals.
“Our chamber has a very skewed mix of people, and we want to bring more women and young professionals in,” Banez said. “We want the businesses to keep growing and really groom people for the future.”
As part of that initiative, the Business Council will combine two local associations for young business leaders. ASCEND of Williamsburg, formed by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, and Young Emerging Professionals of Williamsburg will be combined into a single overarching group for young people interested in business to network and foster professional development, she said.
“They are our leaders of the future, so this is really important for us,” Banez said. “It will grow the membership and become the best in the state, that’s what we’re aiming for.”
The EDA business roundtable will reconvene on Feb. 12 for a presentation from Roy Pearson, the College of William and Mary’s chancellor professor of business emeritus.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.