June 24, 2015 at 01:16pm
Lisa Tharpe has always been a dreamer. She doesn’t have just any dreams. She has big ones. As she ends her two-and-a-half year tenure as executive director of the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, Lisa remembers back to the first time she worked with the Farmville chamber over 15 years ago.
Fresh in town from Raleigh, NC and working at Green Front Furniture, Lisa got the idea to throw a community party—a big one. The Summer Fun Finale. With a strong background in marketing and advertising, Lisa knew the best place to get anything done in a town was through its local Chamber of Commerce.
She admits her idea was a bit of a hard sell initially, but, with some persistence, she convinced the Chamber board to support the venture of this massive event. Lisa booked three big-name bands, lined up a children’s activity area, food vendors, and a beer garden. The event was marketed heavily and buses were chartered to bring in people from Richmond and Lynchburg.
However, Mother Nature had other plans. Hurricane Dennis ripped into town the night before, dumping ankle-deep rain and flattening carefully set-up tents “like paper airplanes,” Lisa says. The event had to be postponed till the following weekend. Despite the delay, over a thousand attendees still turned up at the airport on a beautiful warm September weekend. The large turnout, coupled with Lisa’s decision to buy rain insurance, meant the Chamber made over $13,000 in profits.
“It came close to being a complete disaster,” Lisa says with a laugh, “but that tough experience and the dedicated cooperation of the Chamber board turned this near disaster into a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
In 2012, Lisa accepted a position as interim director of the Chamber and June of 2013 officially became the executive director. Lisa has always been a firm believer in the powers of local Chambers of Commerce and over her lifetime has been a member of over 25 of them. From member to board member to director, for Lisa the transition was a natural one.
During the past two-and-a-half years at the helm, Lisa has grown the membership at the Farmville Area Chamber from 200 to a whopping 315. Attendance at the Chamber’s trademark luncheons has doubled. Lisa feels that one of her biggest accomplishments during her time with the Chamber has been adding value to the membership. It was important to help local business owners realize that it is truly worthwhile and beneficial to be a member.
“I’ve discovered that my passion in life is putting people together and helping their business grow,” Lisa says. “I was very fulfilled in that passion while working with the Chamber. The huge collaborative After Hours events, Small Business Expo, Golf Tournaments and Awards Reception allowed me to put that passion to work. That ability to collaborate on a large level, and the awesome members, are what I will truly miss most.”
Although stepping down as director is bittersweet, Lisa keeps her trademark big dreams and bright hopes as she leaves this month to pursue another path. Her main focus will be spending time with her family (Her daughter Lexy is 12 and son, Josh, is 13.) and assisting her husband as his own business, JR Tharpe Trucking, rapidly expands. In her spare time, she plans to work on her own marketing business: Strategies That Move.
It’s not just a passion for generating beneficial and meaningful connections that has driven Lisa. As a long-time resident of the community who has put her roots down deep, she feels strongly that it is in her own best interest and the interest of her family to do all she can to make the community a better and more thriving place. She remains on several Boards and looks forward to staying active in the area.
“It’s important to help make my community be the best possible place to live,” she says. “I feel like I’ve played an integral role in doing that through the Chamber, now I plan to enjoy this great area”.
(This blog post was writting by Letterpress Communications to highlight Lisa Tharpe and her tenure as execitive director of the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce.)
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Farmville Area Living
The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce has been serving the region since 1948. The Chamber exists to improve the quality of life of those living and doing business in our community by working in partnership with its members and the local government. We have had far reaching effects on our community though education initiatives, the Leadership Farmville program, tourism promotions, business seminars, and other opportunities to serve a diverse and growing population.
The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce exists to improve the quality of life for those living and doing business in the community by working in partnership with its members and local government. Focusing leadership on challenges and opportunities, the Chamber strives to empower individual businesses and the collective entrepreneurial community to fulfill their financial and human potential. The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce strives to be an advocate for the community's best interests and a catalyst for achieving those goals which are best for its members and the greater community.