Longtime Williams resident and business owner Helen Gorney is no stranger to the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, having served with the chamber numerous times in the past. As chairperson for 2008, Gorney replaced the late Danny Ray in the position after he passed away in November. Gorney said she plans to help steer the chamber based on goals set during a recent chamber of commerce retreat held last year in Prescott.
Board members used the retreat to develop a list of goals, called a 'program of work,' during the gathering, Gorney said. As chairperson of the board, she has the task of keeping an eye on those goals.
"My responsibilities are mainly presiding over the meetings. My goal this year is to try and stay on track with our program of work," Gorney said. "At the retreat we worked on this and we came up with what the different committees thought they could reasonably or realistically accomplish and we put it in this booklet form so that we could bring it with us to all the meetings. I think that's the best way to do it, we kind of outlined the different steps that we want to take to accomplish the goals that each committee has set. That's kind of going to be my goal, I think, is to use this as a guide and refer to it at each of the meetings and have the committee chairs update where they are with their outline of work and their goals."
A number of separate committees operate under the umbrella of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, including the Ambassadors, the Clean and Beautiful Committee, Main Street and many others. Plans for the coming year include enhancing the junior ambassador's program in Williams, applying for a grant or additional funding to complete Glassburn Park, organizing a special improvement district for the city's Frontage Road project and a plan to help educate area youth on the chamber of commerce to get them more involved in the community.
"The ambassadors are actually going to be having the ambassador's conference, for all of the ambassadors for the state, in Williams. I believe it's May 2-3. That's a big accomplishment. Clean and Beautiful has different goals that they set. Each of the committees has set their own goals, what they want to see and what they want to do," Gorney said. "I'm excited that we have an events coordinator (Sue Atkinson), because she's really good. She has the whole schedule of events that she's bringing to town and welcoming back to town. Then we have the Tourism Committee. That's a rather new committee and then we have the Economic Development Committee as well. Each of them reports at each of the meetings where they are and what they've accomplished. When we have our general meeting, our board meeting, they report. We have the Executive Committee, which meets once a month and we meet the week before the regular board meeting," Gorney said.
Gorney is no stranger to the chamber of commerce, having served in one capacity or another since the early 1990s.
"Michael Vasquez invited me to be on the board and I agreed to do that, then they asked me to be treasurer, which I agreed to do. At that point in time the chamber offices were where the motor vehicle building is now," Gorney said. "It was a time of turmoil for the chamber and, actually, as treasurer I ended up going over there every day, putting the money in the cash register, making all the deposits, doing the payroll, paying all the bills, it was like having my own business. It was unbelievable, but then things started turning around, so I didn't have to do it for all that long."
Despite her rocky beginning, Gorney said she enjoys her work with the chamber.
"I enjoy the people and I feel that it's a way that I can give back to the community, because the community has been very good to us in all the businesses that we have had. We've actually had five businesses, four of them in Williams and the first one was out of town," Gorney said.
Chamber of commerce board members who attended the recent Prescott retreat also looked at the past year in order to highlight their prior accomplishments. Prior retreats have also been held in Sedona and Laughlin, among other locations.
"It's always amazing how much actually does get done in a year. It's a good thing to do because it kind of helps you to focus for the future as well," Gorney said.