BY SHARRON HALEY
CLARENDON COUNTY – The Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce may have a new Executive Director, but they are not new to Clarendon County.
Jennie Lee, former owner of Merle Norman of Manning, took up her new role on Monday. She said she was “settling in” right now and looking forward to visiting each member of the chamber very soon.
“I am delighted to be back in Clarendon County and working to bring back the events that have helped support my business,” said Lee. “I am also looking forward to exploring new ways to develop the chamber and our community.”
Lee said she was ready to “fulfill the chamber’s mission by championing business, fighting for a healthy economy and continuing to improve the quality of life in our community.”
“As a former small business owner, advocacy is close and dear to my heart,” Lee said.
Lee said that hosting the Chamber’s Business After Hours event and cutting the chamber ribbon to launch Merle Norman de Manning “was a great way to introduce the new space to many potential clients and fellow business owners. ‘business in a fun and relaxing way’.
Lee said running a business is full of challenges as well as rewards.
“I have 15 years of experiences filled with challenges and rewards,” she said. “I know how much work it takes to establish and grow a business. I have constantly worked to find ways to delight customers as well as ways to run the business more effectively.”
Lee said having a successful business involves research, brainstorming and a million questions.
“The chamber facilitated business network has been a huge resource for me,” she shared. “The networking events have helped me meet other business owners and share ideas for business success. Some of my most successful ideas have come from these connections.”
As the owner of a small local business, being a member of the chamber was “a great way to keep up to date with the activities and events going on in Clarendon County,” she added.
Lee has also been a passionate volunteer in the community. She has volunteered in various organizations and positions promoting Clarendon County, including the Junior Ambassadors, a group of young, community-minded women sponsored by the chamber; Miss Clarendon member of the Committee; Member of the striped bass committee and volunteer; former co-chair of Taste of Clarendon; and a former leader of the Clarendon County Chamber Youth and Adult Leadership Courses.
“Being involved with the chamber and volunteering at community events resonated with my clients,” added Lee. “Our customers chose us over our competition because they knew we care as much as they do about Clarendon County.”
Lee said she was ready to take on the new challenges COVID-19 has placed on “every facet of our lives.”
“I want to continue to improve the quality of life in our community,” added Lee, “because for me there is no place like home.”
In one of her first duties as the new chamber manager, Lee again introduced herself to every chamber member through an email.
“Some of my favorite memories from the past two years are the events and festivals I served as a volunteer,” Lee said. “I look forward to creating many new memories as the chamber continues to be a driving force in the advancement of Clarendon County.”
Lee said the chamber office, 19 N. Brooks St., is open every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and she urged chamber members and non-members to stop by. at his desk for a cup of coffee and “to discuss what’s going on in Clarendon County.”
“Let’s talk about how the chamber can help you and your business achieve even greater success,” said Lee.
Owning a small business hasn’t always been easy, Lee said.
“I have owned a small business in Clarendon County for over 10 years,” said Lee. “It wasn’t easy, but the people of Clarendon County always made it fun.”
Lee said her doors will always be open and that she is ready to hear from chamber members and potential members about how the chamber can work with them to accomplish great things together.
Clarendon County also has a new director of tourism who will take office in a few weeks.
Like Lee, Jesse Surette is nothing new to the people of Clarendon County. He is a graduate of Manning High School and the University of South Carolina. Surette will focus her talents and abilities on improving tourism in her home country.
The Clarendon Sun section of Sumter Item will feature an article on Surette and her plans to improve tourism in next week’s edition.
For more information about the chamber, call (803) 435-4405 or visit the chamber’s offices, 19 N. Brooks St.