The Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Continues to Serve the Community.

by | Apr 2024

TO TRULY understand what an organization does, you have to look at its impact. What does it do for the community? What does it do for entrepreneurs, educators, and families? How has the world changed because of it? For the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, that impact is obvious. There are 100 years of history to draw from, and the work done has undoubtedly contributed to making Lebanon and Wilson County such a wonderful place. 

After all, the chamber’s mission statement is “to coordinate the talents and energies of business, industry, and individuals to make Wilson County a better place to live, work, and raise a family.” President Melanie Minter said that the chamber of commerce is a resource and a liaison for businesses, and it seeks to connect those businesses with the community. 

“Our purpose is to keep businesses connected and make an impact on Lebanon and Wilson County’s quality of life. Our chamber works to support and promote all small businesses and industries. We strive for excellence in providing value to our members and our community,” said Minter. 

Some of that value comes from the programs the chamber has offered, like Wilson Books from Birth, Tennessee Scholars, and the Teacher Grant Program. The chamber serves on boards and in leadership roles throughout the community, making a difference in agriculture, the economy, disaster relief, and more. While the needs and programs addressed have changed through the decades, Minter said the core behind the chamber has remained the same. 

“The Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce still has the same values from the past while being innovators to assist in making a difference for our community in the future,” Minter said. 

Minter expressed that the significant impact is the result of close work with the community, especially those who take the time to serve on boards and committees. It is those invested members who make the chamber successful. Two of those member businesses, Cumberland University and the Lebanon Democrat, have remained with the chamber for the entire 100 years, beginning as charter members in 1924. 

Executive Director Rusty Richardson said Cumberland University is proud of its history. Many of the university’s past presidents were involved with the chamber, and at least one staff member is usually on one of the chamber boards. Richardson himself had just finished serving in the chamber’s government relations division. 

“It’s been a long history together, as Lebanon has grown, as Wilson County has grown, as the chamber has grown, and Cumberland has grown,” Richardson said. “The two histories are so intertwined with each other.” 

Currently, Cumberland University has its largest enrollment ever, and the future seems like it will bring more growth for the university, the economy, and the county as a whole. That growth will also bring growth to the chamber. Richardson said the university plans to be part of the chamber on its 200th anniversary. 

The university’s continued involvement is intentional. After all, the more you put into such an organization, the more you will get out of it. 

“I encourage all current members of the chamber to continue to get involved,” Richardson said. “Go to the ribbon cuttings, become an ambassador, go to the events, [and] go to the educational sessions because again, there [are] so many benefits there, and people need to take as much advantage of that as possible.” 

The Lebanon Democrat is also one of Lebanon’s oldest surviving businesses. It, too, joined the chamber of commerce for its inaugural year in 1924. Publisher Joyce Taylor said the newspaper’s goal matched the mission of the chamber. 

“The Lebanon Democrat and the chamber share a common goal of supporting and promoting the local community,” Taylor said. “Both have benefited from each other’s resources and leadership in order to complete that mission over the years.” 

Those businesses who join the chamber now, 100 years later, will experience that same benefit. Taylor said there are leadership and networking opportunities, and the chamber works to recruit new industries to the area and give recognition to those leaders in the community. 

Fostering that leadership will always be important. While the chamber is working to keep its programs relevant and up to date, Minter said the leaders keep the community moving forward. 

“The Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce will always depend upon our future leaders,” Minter said. “We must continue to educate and involve younger generations to remain strong. They will lead us for decades to come with enthusiasm for our community.” 

The past 100 years have been successful, and Lebanon and Wilson County are continuing to grow and thrive. Let’s see what the next 100 can bring. GN 

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