‘We’re all in this together:’ Chamber’s 84th Annual meeting held online

By: Diana Matthews, The News Reporter

Heath Nance, incoming chair of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, shared his hope for “a revival of the human spirit” in an online address to chamber members and friends tonight (Monday).

Nance accepted the gavel from outgoing chair Dan Strickland and thanked him for his service during the past year. Nance presented Strickland with a plaque and a framed painting, saying it had been an honor to work with him.

Nance said the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic had not lessened the chamber’s determination or commitment to the business community.

The event took the form of a recorded video broadcast over Facebook Live at 7 p.m.

Click here to watch the video

Accomplishments and new leaders

Jennifer Holcomb, chamber president, named 24 new members that had joined during 2020 and four who had joined since the beginning of this year. She said that disbursing coronavirus relief funds to 84 small businesses had been a major accomplishment during the year.

Holcomb thanked retiring board members Jamille Gore, Shawn Maynor, Ethan Scott, Diane Stewart and Brenda Troy for their service. She introduced incoming board members Kathy Ashley, Rhonda Dutton, Cynthia Ellis, Chris English and Terri Edmund.

Returning board members are Jason Beck, Amber Bellamy, Bettina Cox, Gary Lanier, Terry Mann, Jonathan Medford, Nicky Nance, Stephen Underwood and Mary Williamson. There were no awards given this year.


Nance, the new chair, is an assistant district attorney who formerly practiced law privately in the county. A native of Cerro Gordo, he lives close to Whiteville with his wife and two children. In a brief address, Nance spoke of harnessing the frustrations of 2020 and directing them into positive actions for 2021.

The chamber had to forgo some of its most popular activities and fundraisers throughout the past year, Nance said, including Shuck and Shag, Leadership Columbus and Live After Five, but did carry out the annual golf tournament under modified conditions.

Nance said he looked forward to some day retiring terms such as “new normal” and “social distancing” and perhaps even holding an event to bury face masks. Because humans are “pack animals,” we will appreciate more than ever before the blessings of time together and sharing kindness when that time comes, he said.

However, Nance endorsed holding onto the sentiments of “We’re all in this together” and “Together we are stronger.”

Chamber staff are Jennifer Holcomb, president; Joan McPherson, director of member relations; and Cathy Boswell, administrative assistant.