By Nicole Collins, Co-Editor/Writer
The Woodruff Area Council recently elected new leadership to represent the businesses and community.
Sister and brother team Leslie Cash and Hunter Brown have taken on the leadership role of the area council, replacing Karyn Page-Davies who has been the chairperson since 2012.
Page-Davies decided to step down to focus more of her attention on MUSE 134, the downtown business she owns with her husband, and on Stone Soup Storytelling Institute, a local nonprofit she is president of.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my service as a leader in the area chamber,” said Page-Davies. “Woodruff has always been a community of resilience and persistence. I want to see the downtown flourish and I plan to do my part.”
For her replacement, Page-Davies sought out the younger generation of Woodruff’s community. “I think that through the wisdom of age that it’s better to have some young people involved in this pursuit. We want to be a community of growth and youth. We want to be vivid, vital and lively, but I think my energy is not what someone younger has,” said Page-Davies.
Cash, 36, and Brown, 31, represent the younger generation Page-Davies had in mind but more than that, the siblings have ties to the community and the businesses. They grew up working in all of the different businesses the Brown family has operated in Woodruff, including Brown’s Market and the Do Drive Inn.
Though they both worked outside the area for a while, but managed to find their way back. Cash is now in co-management at the Country Meat Center, a family business located in the Brown’s Crossing plaza on Hwy 221, and Brown works a little further down 221 where he is vice president at Palmetto Vermiculite. Since returning, both have also been involved with the local small business association and nonprofits, as well as attended area council meetings, so that they could see what the need was here and how they could contribute.
“Woodruff is a part of who we are. We’re very passionate about the growth of Woodruff and I think that other people need to see what amazing people we have, and what amazing hearts we have here in Woodruff. I want to show all the good that is here,” said Cash.
The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce launched the area council program in 1987 to help connect the smaller areas of the county to the larger chamber. The area councils are divided into six zones with the Woodruff Area Council including the businesses in Spartanburg School District 4.
Any business that is already a member of the chamber is automatically a member of the area council it is located in. However, a business or nonprofit does not have to be a member of the Spartanburg Chamber to be a member of its local council.
John Kimbrell, Chief Business Affairs Officer for the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said that business members of the area councils benefit by developing and nurturing new and existing clients, having a voice and being an advocate to local issues, communication and important issues.
“We’re excited to have Hunter and Leslie take the reins of the Woodruff Area Council. Karyn was very successful in that role for many years. Woodruff has a lot of momentum. It is important that the leadership of the Council capture this enthusiasm and build upon it. People want to be a part of success and Woodruff is experiencing that now,” said Kimbrell.
While the Spartanburg Chamber provides administrative support, the initiatives of the council will be Woodruff focused. Brown said that he and Cash will be the active voice for the community, making sure that ideas and issues are passed on to the Chamber, but they do have their own personal initiatives they want this council to strive towards.
Additionally, Brown has insight in chamber operations from his current role as the Communication Chair on the Spartanburg Young Professional’s board. He will be rolling off that board in October to focus his attention on the Woodruff Area Council.
“It’s the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, but so many people focus on it being just the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce. It was always my goal when I was on the Young Professionals board to make sure all the county was represented in everything that we did. I think we can do more of that now being so hands-on on the Woodruff side,” said Brown.
One of the Woodruff council’s responsibility has been organizing the annual Woodruff Christmas parade. Beyond the parade, Cash and Brown plan on finding other opportunities throughout the year that will involve businesses and help the community.
“We’re going to have to feel out what the need is and find a solution to meet it. Everybody’s voice needs to be heard. I want to hear everything. The first year is going to be finding the best ways to move forward,” said Cash
To start, Cash and Brown will be hosting a Zoom launch meeting on Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. with the goal of getting everyone who wants to participate in the same place to start sharing ideas. For details or how to sign up for the meeting, visit the Woodruff Area Council’s event page here.
“We’re very excited and want to facilitate as much positivity and passion for Woodruff as we possibly can,” said Cash.