Reflecting on a year of service

Published 8:53 am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

by Michael Clark

I have struggled with how to adequately summarize my experience this past year as president of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce. I hope the following will at least provide a snapshot of what has been a profoundly gratifying and deeply rewarding experience for me.

My love for this organization started when I was a senior in high school fulfilling a work-study graduation requirement. But, Chamber service has actually been a proud tradition in my family, which began with my grandfather Thomas F. Clark in the 1960’s and continued with my dad, Pete Clark, who served as president in 2004. It has been especially meaningful knowing I shared this role with my dad. Maybe even more so since he has passed away. It’s the first time a father and son have served as president and is a distinction that will forever link the two of us with this storied organization.

I extend an enthusiastic “thank you” to our entire Board of Directors for working so hard and helping us accomplish so much. I have had the pleasure of working alongside some of our community’s most outstanding men and women. Because of their efforts, the Chamber has enjoyed much success, including a 10 percent increase in membership in 2012 and a renewed level of participation and sponsorship in all of our signature events.

We introduced a new and exciting event that featured a dynamic motivational speaker challenging us to reexamine how we approach success within our business, community and ourselves. The Chamber continued to lobby on behalf of our business community by forming relationships with newly elected representatives, as well as strengthening our relationships with existing legislators. We formed an education task force with the goal of elevating the discussion on the quality and level of public education in our community. We challenged elected leaders to become engaged and put the community agenda ahead of self agenda. And finally, we worked alongside Franklin-Southampton Economic Development on a number of key initiatives as the Chamber and FSEDI have become a singular voice for economic development and job creation.

In short, we made huge strides with an aggressive agenda of progress for our members and community.

While my time as president is concluding, I look forward to continued service on the Chamber’s Executive Committee and enthusiastically support our incoming president. I’ll also continue my service in Richmond on the Virginia Chamber’s Small Business Committee. In short, I will never stop working for small business or for progress here in Franklin-Southampton County. I know with the proper vision and strategy, we are poised for greatness here in the “Gateway to Hampton Roads”.

MICHAEL CLARK is vice president and general manager of WLQM radio in Franklin, a third-generation family owned business.  He can be reached at