Finley takes helm of SML Chamber of Commerce

Chris Finley began work as the new executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 28.

Serving as the next executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce feels like a homecoming for Christopher Finley.

Finley began his new position Oct. 28. He steps into a role that was held for 17 years by former SMLRCC Executive Director Vicki Gardner.

“I’m really excited to be back at Smith Mountain Lake,” Finley said.

Finley said his prior experience will serve him well in his new position. For 12 years he directed marketing programs with The Willard Companies, and from 2011 to 2013, he served on the SMLRCC board of directors.

Finley most recently worked as the communications manager for an international defense and aerospace company, BAE Systems. In that role, he handled internal and external communications and community relations.

During his first couple of weeks as head of the SMLRCC, Finley said he has had one-on-one meetings with staff members and has attended a Virginia Chamber of Commerce networking event in Richmond. He’s reached out to various SMLRCC members to learn more about the products and services they offer and has met with key suppliers and vendors who support the Chamber’s operations.

“I’m a firm believer in two-way communication,” Finley said. “My door at the chamber is always open.”

Over the next 30 to 60 days, Finley said his focus is to assess the chamber’s staffing needs as there’s been a couple of key positions that have turned over in the last year. In the next 90 days, Finley said he will meet with neighboring chambers of commerce in Bedford, Roanoke, Danville and Martinsville to collaborate on opportunities. An early goal, he said, is to fully launch the chamber’s re-branded nationwide marketing campaign.

-For more information, see the Nov. 13 edition of the Smith Mountain Eagle-

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