Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber clarifies reasons for giving up "hosting" future Covered Bridge Celebration and Christmas events

John Thompson • Nov 15, 2019 at 10:00 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The president of the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce is emphasizing that all the directors of the organization live in the community and do not want to see an end to three events the Chamber has led for many years.

Chamber President David LeVeau said no one wants to see the end of the Covered Bridge Celebration, the lighting of the community Christmas tree or the downtown Elizabethton Christmas Parade.

“No, the Grinch hasn’t stolen Christmas from Elizabethton,” he said in reference to the parade.

LeVeau spoke at a press conference at the Chamber of Commerce at noon on Friday. The press conference was scheduled after the Johnson City Press reported on Tuesday that the Chamber was working to hand off the leadership role for the three major community events.

LeVeau said the Chamber has discussed transitioning the events to several organizations but he had no official commitment from any organization for Friday’s press conference.

LeVeau said the Chamber’s reason for handing off the events is to allow the Chamber to devote its resources to the needs of its members.

He began the press conference by saying the Chamber “is committed to furthering the interests of its membership and businesses in Elizabethton and Carter County.”

He said the Chamber has been working to make the organization more valuable to its business members. Part of this effort was a strategic planning session over the past four months.

The purpose of the strategic plan was “to propel the Chamber into the future and allow us to better serve the business community and create greater value to our membership. During the planning, certain key initiatives were identified to help carry out a new mission and to re-purpose our Chamber (back to the basics).

“Those areas include business development, workforce development, education and tourism. It is the Chamber’s goal to operate within those key pillars in order to enhance value and work more effectively with our limited setoff ad resources. With that, there will be necessary changes in the programming of our events focussed on promoting current and new business.”

LeVeau said the Chamber has taken great pride in being the lead organization in the community events.

He said the Chamber values the traditions represented by these community events. “Unfortunately, as we begin to transition our focus to activities more directly related to our key initiatives … we will no longer be able to continue organizing some of these well-loved community events. This will include certain Christmas events in the future and the Covered Bridge Celebration.

He said the Chamber has already been in talks with other organizations to transition the leadership roles.

“We feel confident that each of these events will be transitioned to another group and our Elizabethton traditions will be continued.”

Looking to upcoming community events led by the chamber, LeVeau said the Christmas tree lighting will take place as scheduled on Tuesday, Nov. 19. The Christmas parade will take place as scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 7.

On the next Covered Bridge Celebration next June, LeVeau said the board has decided to not “host” the event. He said the Chamber has been in conversation with a few community organizations and will work with any group the has an interest in hosting the event in the future.

LeVeau concluded by saying that the Chamber looks forward to partnering with its members to grow their business in Elizabethton and Carter County while providing an environment that promotes business business and job growth.

“One thing that is clear is that the Chamber is dedicated to serve its members and business community to the best of our ability and is determined to support and aid in their success.”