Board Chair touts Diversity and Change

March 26, 2018
Erik Clark, a professional benefits consultant with the Wellspring Insurance Agency, symbolically began his term as Board Chair for the 2018-19 Chamber Year March 22 during the annual membership banquet.
Erik began his chamber involvement as head of the Host Coalition for the LEAD program.  This involved helping line up volunteers for on-site support at Membership Luncheons, Mixers and New Member Orientations.
He was later appointed chair of the Small Business Initiatives Committee; he took a personal and active role in securing topics and speakers for the monthly Business Networking Group sessions.   He streamlined the nomination process for promoting and selecting the Small Business of the Year Award.
Erik was eventually appointed to the Executive Committee to head the Membership Development Division.  He not only helped sell new accounts, but, logged extra hours on his cell phone helping with retention calls.  Erik was named the chamber’s Volunteer of the Year for the 2013-14 Program Year. 
Erik told the audience of nearly 300, “For good, or, bad, Denton is changing, and so is our Chamber.  If we don’t evolve, we will be left behind.  As nature, and culture would have it, the generations of leadership from within our local business community have logically evolved.”
“Younger faces mean new ideas,” he went on to say.  “This is not the establishment, however, we must keep in touch with the institutional knowledge. The fact is, for 100-plus years, this organization has been at the forefront of helping guide change in this city.”
To emphasize a key point regarding the chamber’s diversity, Erik noted that the chamber will make front-page headlines when the board endorses public incentives for major corporations, opposing the hydraulic fracturing ban or advocacy for specific convention center locations.   “We’re rarely given adequate credit, however, for the efforts of our on-going Business Networking Group,” which he clarified as a direct benefit to local small businesses.
For the fiscal year concluding September 30, 2017, the Small Business Development Center counsellor, partially funded by and housed in the chamber office supported 30 new business starts, creating 119 new jobs.  The results were a combined capital infusion of $5.5 million into the Denton area economy. 
Business start clients included 56% women owned projects, 29% minority and 11% were military veterans.
For the 2018-19 Program Year, the Executive Committee, for the first time ever, will be made up equally male and female officers.  The Board Chair-Elect for 2019-20 is a female, local attorney Jill Jester.  Sheryl English is the first female African American to serve on the chamber board.
An early goal of the program year is to implement some critical improvements and upgrades to the chamber office.  Juxtaposition Erik urged an adjustment of the collective point of view as to what describes a small business.  “More and more,” he said, “we’re finding that the traditional brick and mortar image does not fit every individual institution.”
He closed by pointing out that regardless of what constitutes the local business community, the Chamber Office will always be considered, by the rest of the world, as The Front Door to Denton.
Chuck Carpenter, President
(940) 382-9693