NOTE: This narrative will give the highlights of GBACC, not the day to day business.
In 2004, MuscleHogger’s Gym owner Beth Johnson organized a group of local merchants who called themselves “Check Brunswick First”. Beth was disturbed that so many residents were unaware of the number and diversity of businesses that we had here in the greater Brunswick area, and was appalled that they would drive to Frederick MD, Leesburg VA, or Charlestown WV to do their shopping!
The main thrust of this organization was cooperative advertising; however the group also participated in and sponsored local events, individually and in partnership with City Hall, to provide activities for local residents and to encourage tourism. By the year 2006, CBF recognized the need to proceed to the next level, and a determination was made to form the first Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.
On Monday, January 23, 2006 at Beans in the Belfry Café, Jerry Knight of Cripple Creek Antiques, Sue Mayne of the Brunswick Railroad Museum, Diane Ellis of Sundance Art & Frame, Bill Sims of Antiques N’ Ole Stuff, Ellis Burruss of Bellwether Printing, and Beth Johnson of MuscleHogger’s Gym met to discuss the pros and cons of forming a local Chamber. After a lengthy discussion, a decision was made to call a meeting of all local business owners to determine just how many merchants had an interest. Jerry Knight was asked to contact the Mt. Airy Chamber of Commerce regarding a guest speaker for this first meeting, since the Mt. Airy businesses had recently begun their own Chamber and could offer much useful information.
In early February 2006, several individuals designed and hand-carried flyers inviting all local businesses to attend this brainstorming session, scheduled for 7:00 pm, Wednesday February 22 at the Brunswick Railroad Museum. Guests Keir Knight, Tom Nuff, Bob Cage and Tim Barkley of the Mt. Airy Chamber met with 36 members of our business community. Discussion after the meeting proved that there was much enthusiasm and strong support in favor of forming our own organization.
Jerry Knight began recruiting prospective board members and the following were selected: Jerry Knight of Cripple Creek Antiques, Gary Lowry of Lowry Farm Market, Lloyd McIntire of New Century Associates, Kevin Johnson, Ellis Burruss, Pat Baker of Mackintosh Realty, Ed Iler of A-Z Hauling, Chris Spielman of C.M. Bloomers Florist, Charlotte Klaar of College Consulting, Hanna Politis of Beans in the Belfry Café , and Debbie Allison of Green Country Inn. On March 3, 2006 this interim board met to begin the process. The following officers were selected: Jerry Knight as President; Gary Lowry as Vice President; Lloyd McIntire as Treasurer; and Kevin Johnson as Secretary. Beth Johnson filled in for her husband, Kevin.
Three major committees/chairpersons were designated:
- Finance, Organization & Membership
- Charlotte Klaar – Chairman
- Chris Spielman – Vice Chairman
- Kevin Johnson – Chairman
- Sue Mayne – Vice Chairman
- Special Events:
- Jerry Knight – Chairman
- Pat Baker – Vice Chairman
Dues were discussed and the formal name The Greater Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce (GBACC) was adopted. The second board meeting was held on Friday March 10, 2006 at Beans in the Belfry Café, after Lloyd McIntire met with Tim Barkley (a Mt. Airy attorney) about the dues structure of the Mt Airy Chamber of Commerce.
In attendance: Chris Spielman, Jerry Knight, Sue Mayne, Debbie Allison, Gary Lowry, Ed Iler, Beth Johnson (for Kevin) and Lloyd McIntire. After some discussion, the Board agreed to $85 annual membership dues. Gary Lowry wrote and presented the first check to Treasurer McIntire. The official start date of GBACC was designated as 3/10/2006 and the accounting year to be a fiscal accounting method based on a regular calendar year.
The principal objective would be to promote commercial/business activities and generate understanding/cooperation within the greater Brunswick area.
It was also determined that General Membership Meetings would be held on the 1st Mondays each month at Green Country Inn – board meetings at 6:30 pm and general meetings at 7:30 pm. The time and board meeting date were later changed.
The first official General Membership Meeting of GBACC was held on Monday April 3, 2006. Twenty-three people attended the first meeting. A change in the officers of the board had occurred before the meeting. Kevin Johnson had to resign as Secretary, and Jerry Knight felt he could be more effective serving as secretary and asked Ellis Burruss to step in as President. The President called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm. The committees gave their reports and general business was discussed. Drafts of the GBACC by-laws were passed around and a vote on them was to be taken at the May meeting. Gary Lowry moved the meeting be adjourned and Sue Mayne seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 pm.
The first Business Card Exchange was held April 26, 2006 from 5:00 pm- 7:00 pm at the Green Country Inn. Twenty-three business owners attended the first Card Exchange. A flower arrangement was donated by C.M. Bloomers, a hanging flower basket by Lowry Farm Market and a luncheon gift certificate by Beans in the Belfry Café. Jeremy Biser of Altitude Home Inspections won the first door prize, and the event was considered a great success.
On April 29, 2006 Sage Small Business Services became the first member to join GBACC from Jefferson, MD. Chris Spielman referred Sage President Mary McCormack. On May 28, 2006 Bonnie’s Country Kitchen, owned by Bonnie Hawker, became the first business to come on board from Lovettsville, VA.
On May 3, 2006 at the General Membership Meeting, the by-laws for GBACC were approved by the membership. Charlotte Klaar of College Consulting Services, Membership Chairperson said, “This was a cooperative effort of all members of the Committee and I want to thank the committee members for their dedication and attention across many meetings and many drafts to have developed the current document”. Charlotte and the Membership Committee members were very pleased to see the by-laws passed as written. Ellis Burruss, GBACC President, congratulated the group on a ‘job well done’.
The new GBACC logo was used officially for the first time May 24, 2006 on the invitations for the monthly Business Card Exchange and 657 of these were mailed to businesses in the Brunswick, Jefferson and Middletown areas of Maryland and to the Lovettsville, VA area. GBACC had 40 dues paying members as of the board meeting on May 24, 2006.
During the August 22, 2006 Brunswick City Council meeting Mayor Carroll Jones announced that Councilwoman Beth Johnson would be the designated liaison to GBACC. Beth had been with the organization since the inception, so this was welcome news.
Nominations for the GBACC Board 2007 were announced at the October 4, 2006 General Membership Business Meeting. Nominated were: Ellis Burruss for President, Dave Smith of Smith Home Team for Vice-President, Mary McCormack for Treasurer and Jerry Knight for Secretary. Chris Spielman, Jeremy Biser and Gail Pearrell of F&M Bank were nominated as members-at-large. This was the first official board nominated by the membership.
An information booth for GBACC’s members was shared with the EDC during Brunswick Railroad Days on October 7 and 8, 2006. This was another “first” for GBACC. The new Business Directory, a cooperative effort of GBACC and the EDC, was distributed at the booth and throughout the business community.
On November 1, 2006 at the GBACC General Membership meeting a new board for 2007 was voted on and elected. This was the first elected board for GBACC, taking over for the interim board. The new board elected was: President Ellis Burruss; Vice-President Dave Smith; Treasurer Mary McCormack; Secretary Jerry Knight and the “At Large” members…Chris Spielman, Jeremy Biser and Gail Pearrell.
In November 2006 Jeremy Biser, co-chair of the Membership Committee began to give out the new GBACC window decals to members. It was the same design as the GBACC logo. Jerry Knight claimed the honor of putting the first one in the window of Cripple Creek Antiques.
The January 3, 2007 GBACC General Membership meeting was the first to feature both a guest speaker and a “Spotlight” speaker. Traci Giganti of Book Crossing was the “Spotlight” speaker; she gave a brief description of Book Crossing and announced a new GBACC Membership discount program for Book Crossing. The featured speaker was Susan Grey of the Frederick County Library. Susan spoke about “Free Business Resources from the Library”.
On Thursday, January 25, 2007 the first GBACC Awards Dinner was held at the Hollow Creek Golf Club in Middletown, MD, a new member of GBACC. Ninety-three GBACC Members and their guests attended the dinner. Delegate Rick Weldon spoke about the type of person involved with GBACC. Rick Adams, President and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, spoke of “Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive”. Charlotte Klaar, 2006 Board Member, presented a gavel to President Ellis Burruss that was inscribed: Presented to the 2007 GBACC Board from the 2006 Interim GBACC Board.
Awards were given to the following:
- A Certificate of Appreciation was given to the Mt Airy Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Jerry Knight, GBACC Secretary, presented the award to Tim Barkley for their help in getting GBACC organized and started.
- A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the Green Country Inn. Ellis Burruss presented the award to Debbie Allison, representing the Green County Inn, for hosting so many GBACC events last year and helping the organization have a consistent meeting place for the board and members. Debbie was also presented with a framed print of the mural in Square Corner Park, with a plaque from GBACC.
- A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Charlotte Klaar of College Consulting Services, a 2006 GBACC Board Member. Mary McCormack, GBACC Treasurer, gave Charlotte the award for appreciation for coordinating the writing of the Bylaws as Chair of the Organization Committee, getting the Membership Committee started as co-Chair, seeking out 2007 board nominees as Chair of the Nominating Committee, serving on the 2006 Interim Board of Directors and working to get the website up and running as the Technology Committee Chair.
- A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Jeremy Biser of Altitude Home Inspections, Inc. GBACC Vice-President Dave Smith gave Jeremy the award for serving on the Organization and Membership Committees and accepting Co-Chair position of the Membership Committee. He coordinated the Annual Membership drive that drew 70 members in our first year (2006) and coordinated the Annual Dinner with support of the Membership Committee and Board.
- Chris Spielman, GBACC Board Member, presented the Community Impact Award to Buddy Riser of WTRI Vegas Radio. The award was given to Buddy for being supportive of and promoting many local charity and community events. He is involved in the EDC and partners regularly with Main Street and GBACC. He volunteers both his time and resources to make the greater Brunswick area a better place to live, work and visit and is a role model of a good business citizen.
- The award for Best Business Innovation was presented to Hanna Politis of Beans in the Belfry Café. Hanna accepted the award from GBACC Board Member Jeremy Biser. Jeremy told what one nominations stated, “This café turned a vacant church building into a fun and beautiful place for people to meet and dine” He went on to say “Beans” has also helped to attract people to the Brunswick area through extensive marketing and promotions beyond the city limits.
- The Outstanding Service Award was awarded to CM Bloomers Florist & Gifts. Chris Spielman owner, accepted the award from Mary McCormack. Mary told Chris “Bloomers” is a role model for customer service in the community; friendly and knowledgeable staff always smiling and willing to help; stands by quality flowers and gifts.
- The 2006 Business of the Year Award was awarded to Book Crossing. Sherri Wright and Traci Giganti accepted the award from Dave Smith, GBACC Vice President. Dave told Sherri and Traci that Book Crossing has quickly become a destination point for shoppers throughout the area and has an outstanding selection of products and a staff always willing to find special requests. Book Crossing is an example of how a business can grow quickly and build an excellent reputation among customers in the greater Brunswick area through hard work, smart marketing and leadership in the community.
- The 2006 Leadership Award was present to Jerry Knight of Cripple Creek Antiques by Ellis Burruss. Ellis said Jerry recognized the need to start an organization that would help bring businesses from throughout the greater Brunswick area together and help them all continue to grow and attract new customers, Jerry was the driving force behind getting GBACC started, and he has continuously worked to keep all members informed about the progress of the organization and opportunities available to everyone.
During the GBACC General Membership meeting on February 7, 2007, Jeremy Biser announced he would be stepping down as an “At Large” member of the GBACC Board of Directors due to his election to the Brunswick City Council. Traci Giganti of Book Crossing was nominated to replace Jeremy and the members present approved it.
On March 10, 2007 GBACC was one year old! On March 15 about thirty members gathered at Green County Inn to celebrate this milestone with a special business card exchange.
The first cooperative event between the Lovettsville Business Association (LBA) and the Greater Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce (GBACC) was a Business Card Exchange at Stone Manor Bed and Breakfast on June 14, 2007. Over 100 members of GBACC and LBA met for networking, door prizes and a fantastic buffet.
The Brunswick Eagles Club was the setting for the October 25 Halloween Gala with the LBA and GBACC. Approximately 75 costumed guests attended and enjoyed music, dancing, a silent auction, a cash bar and refreshments. Madam Beepho, fortuneteller and Jim Dronenburg, harpist provided entertainment. GBACC member Dee Hannum-Dean of DHD Bookkeeping won best costume and LBA Member Katherine Buck of Talk of the Town Restaurant won most original costume.
Candidates standing for election to the 2008 board were voted in at the November 7, 2007 GBACC Business Meeting. Diane Ellis, Katherine Iacovelli and Kurt Brown counted the ballots for the GBACC board members. The President requested that Katherine announce the winners: Vice President – Chris Spielman, Treasurer – Mary McCormack and the “At Large” Members – Spencer Ault, Traci Giganti and Mary Nix.