IOW Chamber chief honored

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ISLE OF WIGHT—Some businesses are struggling as a result of the sluggish economy, however, Isle of Wight County is weathering the economic storm well, according to Constance “Connie” Rhodes, the president of the Isle of Wight-Smithfield-Windsor Chamber of Commerce.

Rhodes, in turn, was given a top honor for her efforts.

“I think that we have all been affected to a degree by the slump,” she said. “It has lasted a lot longer than any of us anticipated, but Isle of Wight hasn’t been as hard hit as others.”

Rhodes was honored with the Chamber Executive of the Year award from the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives at its annual meeting in Blacksburg on Thursday.

“It was a complete surprise,” she said. “I was extremely flattered to be honored by my peers.”

The Executive of the Year award recognizes outstanding performance in the field of Chamber of Commerce management in Virginia during the past year.

“We are tremendously pleased to have Connie named as ‘Exec of the Year,’” said Hugh Keogh, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “Her vision and dedication have added significant value to the chamber profession. The financial security of our organization is a key ingredient to our success, and Connie’s fiscal management has proven to be an asset in the current economic climate.”

The Isle of Wight Chamber has been in existence since the 1960s, and Rhodes has served as the chamber’s president for the past 25 years. She said that the Chamber of Commerce goes beyond networking events and seminars for its members.

“That’s only the tip of the iceberg of what we do,” Rhodes said. “We work very diligently to improve our communities.”

Rhodes said that the chamber was instrumental in getting extended area calling for all of Isle of Wight. She said that when she first moved to the county, residents couldn’t call outside of a 7-mile radius without being charged for a long-distance call.

The most recent project for the chamber was to get Isle of Wight County to join the Hampton Roads regional crime line, 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. Rhodes said that the move is vital because as the county grows, so will its crime, and this will help law enforcement agencies in the community.

Rhodes said that she is pleased to be honored with the award, but that all chamber executives should be recognized for all of their hard work to improve their communities.

“Really the award goes to all chamber executives,” Rhodes said. “It’s a very stressful profession, but at the same time it’s very rewarding.”