The Duncan Chamber of Commerce & Industry has been through a mound of changes in the last few years, most of which can be traced back to the hiring of a new president and CEO.
Debra Burch has spent nearly four years as president of the chamber, and said her time spent here has been not only memorable, but productive.
“The chamber was having some issues when I started,” Burch said. “They really weren’t in a good place financially.”
Burch, as well as her supporting cast of businesses, volunteers and other chamber employees, took on the task of turning the chamber into a productive entity in Duncan again. Four years later, Burch feels as if she and the help she received have accomplished that goal, as well as many others.
“The chamber now has a solid financial foot to stand on,” Burch said. “And everyone involved with the chamber here are very active now.”
Burch, a Duncan native, said being able to work for the chamber in her hometown has been a wonderful experience, especially considering that until she was trained in Lawton, she wasn’t even sure what a Chamber of Commerce did.
“I really didn’t know,” Burch said. “I was even a member when I had my own small business, and I really didn’t know what all the Chamber did.”
After being trained in the way of Chamber of Commerce life, Burch worked with the Lawton Chamber for several years before landing her position in Duncan.
“It was wonderful to get to work in my hometown,” Burch said. “I already knew a lot of the people I would be working with, but there were a lot of new faces as well, which made it great.”
Burch said one of the keys to making the Duncan chamber work is the variety of people she works with.
“We had some older people, some new people, and some kooky people too,” Burch chuckled. “But that’s what it takes, all kinds of different people to bring different ideas.”
Burch said her new job as Executive Vice-President in the Lawton Chamber will be interesting. She said the Lawton Chamber of Commerce functions much like Duncan’s does, but also handles tourism, economic affairs and even dealings with the military.
“It’s like having Duncan Chamber, DAEDF and the Tourism board all in one,” Burch said. “And they do wonderful things with the military people there too. Lawton really has a huge respect for the military.”
Burch said she will still be living in Duncan, and doesn’t plan on missing anything within the community. She even said some of her clients with the Lawton Chamber are also members of the Duncan chamber, but she said she will miss working with the people in her office at the Duncan Chamber building.
“These people I work with, Laurie (Baldwin) and Sandy (Stewart) have been excellent,” Burch said. “I’ve never seen two people work as hard as they do and I’ll really miss working with them.”
In a memo released from Susan Camp, chairman of the board for the Duncan chamber, she said that Burch has been a great addition to the chamber family, and that she contributed a lot to the Duncan Chamber of Commerce in her short time here.
“We have been very fortunate to have Debra at our Chamber for more than three years,” Camp stated. “We have experienced tremendous benefits from her presidency.
“She is leaving a very sound Chamber of Commerce in Duncan, and we wish her well as she assumes a new role with a larger chamber of commerce. We have been fortunate to enjoy her expertise and passion for chamber.”
— Kevin Kerr is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354 Ext. 147 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.