Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce adds seven directors

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Four board members were elected to the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 8, 2020.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Seven area leaders were added to the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Ken Kramer, Andrea Coon and Sheila Todd will each serve a one-year term, while Donna Farrow will serve a two-year term. Peter Ballhaussen, Bill McGee and Kannah Begley will each serve a complete three-year term.

Ballhausen, McGee, Begley and Farrow were elected to their positions while Kramer, Coon and Todd were selected by the chamber from a list of candidates. All newly elected board members will begin their terms Jan. 1.

“Each candidate had unique strengths and talents that represent and support the communities of Black Mountain and Swannanoa,” president Jon Brooks said. “We know that there were others on the ballot that would like to serve, and those in the rank and file of our partners who would be strong leaders of our organization in the future.”

Duties of board members include, and are not limited to a monthly Board of Directors meeting, serving on one or more Ad Hoc Committees and providing volunteer hours during the annual Sourwood Festival.

Brooks noted that the town’s visitor center had 96% of its foot traffic compared to 2019 despite being closed for two months in 2020. January, February, September and October “showed an increase of over 3,000 people.”

“Financially, the chamber is in better shape than expected” despite revenue and cash reserves being below numbers from 2019. Conserving expenses and grants from Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and VisitNC provided additional funding going into the winter.

Director Sharon Tabor added that while restrictions prohibited some traveling in 2020, Black Mountain had the capacity to thrive because of its small-town environment.

“Small communities like Black Mountain are experiencing higher foot traffic because people with COVID fears don’t want to go to more large, heavily populated areas,” Tabor said. “I was talking to one retail store where they said that he had more foot traffic this year over last year.”

The chamber, which promotes town events and local businesses, is comprised of local business owners and employees. Its visitor center, which provides information about current events and housing opportunities, is also central to “any relocation questions that tourists may have,” Tabor said.

“I probably filled in more relocation questions than I had the previous 11 months,” Tabor told the Black Mountain News in August.

Complemented by the new board members, Tabor recognized volunteers and supporters of the chamber, “without each of you assisting financially through your partnership dues, event sponsorships and volunteer time, we would not be able to serve our visitors and community.”

The chamber said in a Dec. 9 email that it looks forward to adding more members in future years.

“We wish there was room at the table for everyone, but there is always an opportunity to assist, and there is always next year,” it says.