Story By Julie Hales Photos by Susan DeLoach
Blakely Williams works diligently at her desk each day with the mission of promoting and growing the businesses and community of Beaufort. As President & CEO of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Blakely is excited each morning knowing her day will be spent improving a city that she has grown to love so dearly.
Blakely came to Beaufort in 2006 to interview for a job with the chamber. She tells us, “My husband, Blair and I moved to beautiful Beaufort in 2006 as newlyweds! We actually came home a day early from our honeymoon for my job interview with the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
She joined the chamber team as the Member Services Manager in 2007, where she was responsible for promoting, recruiting and retaining Chamber business members and tourism marketing sales. Her first day was quite an experience.
“My first day on the job, we had an evening New Member Reception and the staff worked 13 hours that day. I thought it was the best day ever! Meeting new people, organizing food and bar for a crowd, welcoming people to the Lowcountry, understanding what a diverse business base the community has – how could you not love Chamber work!? I was hooked, “she says.
Her love and dedication to Beaufort and the chamber paid off. In 2011, she was asked to serve as the President and CEO. This job has a need for passion, and Blakely fits the bill.
“In this capacity, I am tasked with emphasizing the importance of increasing tourism, enhancing the three military installations in the Beaufort community, recruiting and growing jobs, revitalizing downtown and helping the business community thrive,” she shares.
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1892. They have been taking care of the Beaufort Regional business community every day for 125 years. Blakely is excited to say, “I consider it an unbelievable privilege to serve. As a team, we talk about how we are the custodians of this amazing organization. It was here way before us, and it will be here way after us.”
Everyone knows you cannot shine all by yourself. You always need somebody around you to flip that little light. It’s called a team. And, Blakely Williams cannot talk highly enough about the entire chamber staff. She says, “Every day, I am grateful and thankful to work with such an outstanding group of professionals. These ladies and gentlemen know how to get things done. I love going to work every single day – we laugh all day long.”
Team, hard work, support and passion are themes that run through Blakely’s success at the chamber. She has learned, practiced and developed these values to drive her toward success. But, with this success also comes balance…it has to….she is also a wife and a mother. She shares, “The reality is I have a busy, stimulating and fulfilling career at the chamber. But, my absolute favorite job is being Mom to my three little ones. My darling girl, Quinn is 7, and my precious little boys, Brice (4) and Harvey (2) are so cool and so funny. I learn something new from them every day.”
Blakely hopes that the work she does at the Chamber will matter to the lives of her children one day. If she has anything to do with it, it will. “At work, we believe in education. We believe that developing a highly-skilled, well-educated workforce is integral to increased job opportunities. We believe in modifying the allocation formula for public education funding so that all students receive equitable funding. We believe that our precious natural resources, like Hunting Island, should be protected. We believe that what happens at Parris Island, MCAS Beaufort and the Naval Hospital Beaufort is not only good for the local economy, it’s good for America’s protection and national defense. And we all believe that we live in paradise – heck, even America’s Happiest Seaside Town,” she states.
When sked about hobbies, as if she has time for any, Blakely responds, “I do like to read. Right now, I’m bouncing around between Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Jim Collins’ Good to Great and Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families.”
Considering the world’s dramatic and accelerating pace of change, what lies ahead is unknown. But the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce is ready and able…Blakely emphasizes, “We believe our best days are yet to come.”
With Blakely Williams leading the way, there is sure to be good things in store for Beaufort.