In October 1957, the plan to organize a Chamber of Commerce got off to a rousing and enthusiastic start at a meeting held in the Dickenson County Courthouse. The gathering was attended by some 100 businessmen from all over the county as well as representatives of the Norton Area Chamber of Commerce. Although the organization was not perfected at the meeting, plans were launched to pledge a large membership, and to call a meeting in the very near future to elect official and complete the organization. It was decided that the unit would be officially known as “The Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce”
The meeting was called by the County Planning Commission which was activated in Dickenson County in January 1957. This planning body found that it stood in imperative need of an organization to represent the business interests of the county, and to contact outside industry through the state and national Chambers of Commerce and other channels.
Orby Cantrell, member of the House of Delegates from Wise County, and also an official of the Norton Area Chamber, and Herman L. Huff, Executive Secretary of that organization, were present to give information and explain the details of organizing the local unit. Delegate Cantrell told about the Norton Chamber and its work in bringing in new industry to Wise County. Executive Secretary Huff went into organizational detail, and urged that the Dickenson County Chamber be placed on a sound financial basis. He suggested the annual fees should be $25.00 and that reserve funds should be available for emergencies. In general discussion, it was pointed out that the Pound River Flood Control Dam was now almost a certainty, but that the work of a County Chamber of Commerce would help clinch it. Delegate Cantrell also stated that there was certainly a possibility of a scenic drive from the Breaks Interstate Park to the Cumberland Gap National Park on the Tennessee border.
After discussion of the proposed Chamber, it was determined by a vote that the businessmen present were unanimous in their desire to perfect this organization. It was further decided that the Planning Commission would be authorized to carry on a campaign to obtain members fo the new organization, and to call the organizational meeting as quickly as possible. Some seventy pledges were obtained at this meeting and it was predicted that a membership of some two hundred businessmen would be the goal of the workers. Fred Yates, Chairman of the Planning Commission, and his assistants were in charge of the work. An unusually large delegation was present from Haysi, and several from the upper McClure River Community. Among those making talks to the gathering were Commonwealth’s Attorney Glyn R.Phillips, who acted as chairman of the meeting, the two Norton Area Chamber representatives, Dr. T.C. Sutherland, Ayers Shortt, Ben Sutherland, D. Arvil Deel, Edd Coyle and several others.
The Chamber remained very active through the coming years with some of the founding members being instrumental in seeing the Dickenson County Chamber move forward. The following individuals were involved and some still remain active members in our Chamber of commerce: Clynard & Anita Belcher, Mary Hylton, Katy Jo Powers, Roy Mullins, Doug Ratliff just to mention a few. After an inactive period with the Chamber’s activities, in the 2000’s the Chamber was revitalized with the help of Keith Viers, Dickenson County Administrator. The Dickenson County Board of Supervisors provided an allotment to help the Chamber re-establish its community presence. An Executive Director was hired, new board members from across the county were elected and added to the existing board. Chamber membership drives were initiated. The County Administrator and Board of Supervisors support, IDA support and the business community involvement was the key to getting the Chamber back on its feet. In the early 2000’s, the Chamber was able to relocate in an upstairs office at the Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Bank building in Clintwood and partner with the IDA on many projects.
In 2007, the Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce worked with the Dickenson County Administrator and Board of Supervisors to schedule a meeting with Mrs. Carol Buchanan to inquire about moving into the historic Dr. Phipps House on Clintwood Main Street. Mrs. Buchanan was very receptive to the idea of the Chamber and Historical Society moving into her house. The house would be used as a Dickenson County Visitor Center, Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society. Later, Mrs. Buchanan who was the daughter of Dr. Rufus Phipps donated items from the old Dickenson County Hospital operated by her father, Dr. Phipps and his daughter Jean Lui for display at the Visitor Center; therefore, the Dr. Phipps Family Museum was formed inside the Visitor Center. Mrs. Buchanan only asked the county $1.00 a year for rent. (The Historical Society needed more space so they were able to move into a building near the Baseball field in Clintwood owned by the School Board.)
The Chamber continues to move forward in 2015 with new members being added, a new digital website is being built and the Chamber’s Facebook page continuously being updated. New Chamber members receive a Chamber member decal for their window and a certificate of membership. The Chamber holds monthly board meetings, performs ribbon-cutting ceremonies, holds business after hours meetings at various businesses throughout the county, promotes businesses and encourages our citizens to shop at home. The Chamber recognizes businesses at their annual Business appreciation event and hands out awards. The Chamber holds a Membership Banquet each year as a time for our total membership to come together for a wonderful night of networking and enjoying friendships. Other projects the Chamber is involved in is holding workshops to help new business startups or expanding an existing business. The director sets up appointments with potential business owners with the Community Colleges Small Business Development Centers for consultation and a free business plan. The Chamber works with state and the United States Chamber on keeping updated on governmental (federal, state and local level) affairs or other issues that will affect business owners