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Chamber should include county, Jonesborough in the ‘adventure’

Once again, it is time to renew our Chamber of Commerce membership, something the Herald & Tribune has done for many, many years.
When the membership renewal form arrived a few days ago, we were surprised to see a new logo for the former Johnson City/Washington County/Jonesborough Chamber of Commerce. In the upper lefthand corner of the envelope was a new, bright red logo which stated, “Start Your Adventure Johnson City, Tennessee.”
That revived a perpetual concern that the local Chamber of Commerce, which has always insisted that it works for all three business communities, focuses almost entirely on Johnson City. With the new logo, that would now appear to be official.
The Herald & Tribune has been the Washington County-Jonesborough newspaper since 1869. One of our primary functions, beyond carrying the local news, is to promote and provide a platform for our local businesses.
During a monthly Chamber breakfast in Jonesborough, where it’s only held once in a year, Chamber chief executive officer Gary Mabrey promised more would be done to promote Jonesborough/Washington County businesses. He went so far as to say that a “satellite office” of the Chamber would soon be located in Jonesborough.
That was nearly 10 years ago. We are still waiting.
We have watched as the responsibility of the development of the county’s industrial park landed primarily on the shoulders of Washington County and Jonesborough officials. We have watched as the Chamber backed away from their Partners In Education program which brought much needed sponsorship funding to county schools. We have watched as Jonesborough, on the threshold of building a thriving business district, does so on its own.
We believe Jonesborough and Washington County are the calling cards for the Chamber. In a Chamber website listing labeled “Johnson City Contact Information,” 62 percent of the listings are not in Johnson City. Instead the listing touts the International Storytelling Center, the Gray Fossil Site & Museum, Positive Solutions Tours and more. It becomes very apparent that Washington County and Jonesborough have become vital parts of the economic engine.
Many local business owners seem to agree that perhaps the time is right for a separate Chamber of Commerce – one which works for and actively promotes the businesses and economic welfare of the county and the state’s oldest town.
Our community is the invitation, but they’re having the party in Johnson City. It is time for the Chamber to “dance with the one who brought you.”
What do our readers think? Send a Letter to the Editor with your opinions to P.O. Box 277, Jonesborough TN 37659, fax it to (423) 753-6528, or send it by e-mail to [email protected].com.