Jan. 28, is Ted Ensminger’s last day working for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and Tourism where he has been Executive Director for almost three years. He announced his resignation a the last Madison County Commission meeting on Jan. 19. During his tenure at the Chamber, he worked with Chamber President Jessica Webb, Vice President Ina Thompson, and the 15-member board of directors to promote tourism in Madison County, and work with small businesses located here.
In looking back on his tenure with the Chamber, Ensminger said the number one priority was to improve communication between the Chamber and the community – businesses as well as individuals. With a donated flat screen TV as the prize, the chamber held a contest, entering everyone who submitted his or her email address for a drawing. In short order, they had a list of 1400 emails for daily updates about what is going on in and around Madison, “most of it free, by the way.”
In 2010, the Chamber realized its plan to produce two major tourism events a year for Madison. It brought back “Down Home Days” in April to showcase Madison County food, arts, crafts, and entertainment, and moved the more patriotic “Four Freedoms Festival” and parade to the second weekend in November, close to Veteran’s Day.
Also, at the last “Down Home Days” festival, where attendance was up by almost a third, the rodeo came to town. It will be back again for a second year, at the 2011 “Down Home Days.” Other events include the upcoming 11th annual “4th of July God and Country Celebration” at Lake Francis, with something new and fresh added this year. The circus, which came to town last October, will also be back next year, and the carnival will return with its midway rides in Lanier Field for the Fall Festival, the second or third weekend in November. Last but not least, the first weekend in December will be the time to once again “Light Up Madison.”
“Now that these things have some direction, they’ll keep growing and keep benefiting the citizens of Madison,” said Ensminger. “The event market is a good way to get the word out to the region to come visit historical Madison County.” In addition to events, the Chamber now has two billboards up, as well as kiosks filled with brochures at 11 businesses along I-10. “We probably distribute 700 to 1000 brochures a week.”
The other part of the Chamber’s purpose is small business development. Ensminger wanted to create a Small Business Development Office in the Chamber, with help from FAMU in Tallahassee. That hasn’t been done yet, and it’s one of the things he regrets that he will not be a part of. The office will be created, he says, but whoever comes after him will be the one to pick up the reins and go forward with it.
In announcing his retirement at the Madison County Commissioner’s meeting last Wednesday, he also said, “I know it seems like I’m jumping out of the boat in mid-stream, but this new opportunity came out of the blue.”
As of Feb. 1, he will be employed by Honey Lake Plantation, Resort and Spa as Director of Sales.
Cindy Vees will be Ensminger’
s interim replacement at the Chamber.