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With its 74th annual meeting in the books, the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce is already beginning planning for next year’s 75th.

“We are going to make next year grand,” said chamber President and CEO Ginny Lewis during the meeting Wednesday.

One of those ways will be to honor longstanding businesses, she said. “If you know a business that’s been in the Roanoke Valley — Southside Virginia, Northampton County, and here — If they have been in business for 75 years or longer, we’re trying to compile this information.”

Lewis said, “Next year we definitely want to give a shout out to those businesses who have supported and are the backbone of the Roanoke Valley. And if you think about how many generations that is, that’s a lot of years invested in this town. They could have easily packed up, moved on, but decided to stay here — live, work and play in the Roanoke Valley. This is our goal.”

She said throughout the chamber’s history students have remained important. “Whether through mock interviews or Pathways (the chamber) encourages students to get their education. If you do not plan on going to college that’s OK, but get a skill, be ready to go into the workforce. We have businesses that will hire you on the spot the day you turn 18. You can make a liveable wage right here in the Roanoke Valley and we want to push you and encourage you and give you the skills and the guidance that you need to get you there.”

Said Lewis: “You’ve got people that are willing to help and there are opportunities out there for you.”

The chamber also honored its outgoing board members Wednesday.

They are Mozine Lowe, vice-chair; John Carver, Betty Harris, Karen Hall, and Kelly Barber. 

Taylor Hawkins served as chairman and is now immediate past president.

To suggest businesses for the 75th anniversary call 252-537-3513 or 252-519-2611.