GEMC Chamber President Rick Hatcher announces retirement
Rick Hatcher, President of the Greater East Montgomery County Chamber (GEMCC) announced his retirement at the June 5 chamber luncheon. Hatcher began his career at GEMCC in January 2014 and served with six chairmen of the board during his tenure.
“It has been a great pleasure and a passion to see the chamber progress the way it has over the past six years and I’m grateful to have been a part of it”, Hatcher said. “Leadership in our membership has been the key to making things happen for the better. It is because of these business leaders that GEMCC is thought of as a first-rate business organization with tremendous potential for continued success.”
The tagline Proud To Be EMC, incorporated under Hatcher’s time as GEMCC President, represents the vision, mission, and pride of the fast-growing chamber. Area development, most notably Valley Ranch, and the completion of the Grand Parkway has attracted new businesses and changed the economy of East Montgomery County. Popular restaurants, major retailers, and entertainment destinations continue to open in the area, growing new opportunities for the chamber and chamber members, much of that success attributed to the relationship between the East Montgomery County Improvement District (ECMID).
Photo: East Montgomery County Improvement District
“Without financial support from EMCID, the chamber would have taken much longer to achieve its current accomplishments,” Hatcher said. “EMCID is our number one benefactor and without them, our success would have been much more difficult. We are very fortunate to have ECMID as a partner.”
Many positive changes occurred during the time Hatcher held the position of President, including a name change. Formerly the Community Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1990, it did not have an identity that would separate it from other chambers. As Greater East Montgomery County Chamber, the new name delineated the location and area it covered.
Under Hatcher’s leadership, GEMCC membership has continued to grow and attract a large variety of businesses, not only in the East Montgomery County communities of Porter and New Caney, but also neighboring areas of Humble, Atascocita, Cleveland, Splendora, Conroe, and The Woodlands.
The chamber also attracted businesses that chose to have memberships in more than one chamber. Many members stated the reason they joined was because of GEMCC being so friendly, that it made members feel they were part of a family. The atmosphere new members find is accepting and fun, but also includes many ways to grow business through morning, lunchtime, and evening events held throughout the year, with multiple events hosted each month.
Great changes were made with the Texas Sawmill Festival, expanding tremendously under Rick Hatcher’s lead when it was a GEMCC sponsored event. Once held in a parking lot, the festival moved to Bull Sallas Park and featured a kid’s zone, a car show, carnival, petting zoo, vendors show, BBQ cookoffs, and master wood carvers. Lumberjacks traveled from fourteen states and Canada to compete for monetary prizes, in addition to a lumberjack show that served as the main attraction at the Canadian pavilion at Disney World’s Epcot Center.
A business expo was developed to emulate a trade show where each September, members gather to share their business plans at the community room of Texan Drive Stadium. The expo has grown to become one of the biggest annual development events the GEMCC organizes. The extremely popular Casino Night held at the GEMCC community room in February has grown over the past four years into one of the most attended chamber events, selling out each year.
The Principal for a Day program has evolved since Hatcher’s arrival into a great success. Business leaders meet for one day in October and hear from the superintendents of New Caney and Splendora school districts about the accomplishments of students and staff and to learn how tax dollars are being invested in the local education system.
The Loop, started while Hatcher led the chamber, continues to offer information two times a year about local development and other newsworthy information about the area. Various speakers are invited to inform attendees on many subjects, ranging from road development, residential and commercial construction, schools, law enforcement or other governmental topics that affect the region.
The Greater East Montgomery County Chamber Grand Prix is one of the more exciting events added under Hatcher’s leadership, held at Speedsportz Racing Park. Coming up on its fourth year, it continues to grow in popularity with 21 teams of five racers each participating in the race each spring.
“Like anything, you must participate to get something from it,” Hatcher said. “The effort you put into your membership through participation in promotional, educational and networking opportunities will reap benefits.”
Local businessman Mark Linabury, and current GEMCC board chair, will step in as President beginning August 1, 2019, after Hatcher’s retirement.
“I cannot think of anyone with greater qualifications or zeal to take on the position of President of GEMCC than Mark Linabury,” Hatcher said. “Mark, a local resident who knows so many people in the area, has been a huge proponent of what is being accomplished in Greater East Montgomery County. As I step away from my duties, I know the chamber is going to prosper under his leadership and exciting outlook.”