Cheers to the Chamber for 113 years of success

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, June 24, 2021

Just the other night, the Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce held its “UnMasquerade 2021 Annual Gala & Awards Ceremony”. It was a fantastic event! After a long period of frustrating postponements due to COVID, the Natchez business community was finally able to gather and celebrate many victories.

Chamber President Debbie Hudson and Chamber Chairman Peyton Cavin made everyone feel welcome, NRhythm entertained everyone, and twenty local food vendors, coordinated by Sela Gaude and countless volunteers, fed everyone! Awards were presented to Lynn Jenkins and Walter Tipton (Natchezian Woman and Man of the Year), Carter Lusk and Natalie Richie (Natchez Coca Cola, Business of the Year), and John and Melan Parks (Pearl Street Pasta, 100 Main, Magnolia Grill, Business of the Year), and Matthew Hall was installed as the new Chamber Chairman. It was a busy night!

When we celebrate events such as this, it is important that we hit the pause button and truly consider the significance the moment. For our Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce, celebrating 113 years this year, this gala night was truly special.

Founded on June 15, 1908, and supported by early businesses such as the Natchez Canning Company, The Natchez Broom Company, W. H. Dameron Cemetery, Aerkosky Meal and Feed Mill, and Rucher Cement Works, the chamber has an impressive history of significant accomplishments.

In its early years, under the leadership of great Natchezians such as Tom Reed and others, the chamber contributed greatly to Natchez. It was instrumental in promoting the construction of a park for the Natchez Bluff, hosting important community meetings during wartime, and supporting the development of early roads, bridges and other important infrastructure. Most significant on this list? It would have to be helping to develop the first Mississippi River Bridge and major thoroughfares into town such as JR Junkin Drive and Sgt. Prentiss.

The chamber was responsible for many early tourism initiatives, such as establishing the first tourism information center, promotion of many Spring Pilgrimages, Mardi Gras celebrations, and staging the very first Santa Claus Parade. From long ago up to this very day, the chamber continues to serve a vital role in assisting in tourism and working hand-in-hand with local tourism partners, the City of Natchez, and Visit Natchez to promote tourism.

In addition to infrastructure and tourism, the chamber has also been a leader in economic and industrial development, spearheading the early recruitment of major industries such as Johns-Mansville and IP, leading in the development of the first Industrial Development Council, and working tirelessly from inception up to the present time to promote the development of opportunity in the Miss-Lou region.

The Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce has truly seen our community through many ups and downs, especially considering the past year when, as our local economy was threatened by the National Covid Pandemic, longtime Chamber President Debbie Hudson worked tirelessly to keep local businesses informed of every resource available for business survival and even saw an increase in chamber membership during this difficult time.

So please join me in celebrating these great successes… Cheers to the Chamber! We look forward to another 113 years of great success!

Dan M. Gibson is Mayor of Natchez.