Hyde County Chamber welcomes new director

Published 6:39 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SWAN QUARTER — After months of searching, the Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce has a new leader at the helm.

Averi Simmons, a Hyde County native, took over the director position about two weeks ago, filling a spot left vacant since October.

Chamber President Sherrie Carawan said it was a tough position to fill, as serving as director isn’t an ordinary full-time job. The director is responsible for promoting Hyde County’s businesses, office work, organizing events and maintaining a presence on social media.

“The candidates that we had interviewed just, you know, didn’t fit the criteria that we needed,” Carawan said.

Simmons, however, previously worked for the Hyde County Department of Planning and Economic Development and has experience with grant writing and outreach efforts. That, coupled with Simmons’ roots in the county, made her the best fit, according to Carawan.

Simmons said her family has lived in Hyde County for generations, and while she did move away for a time, it felt right coming home.

“I’ve decided that God must want me to stay here. I’m going to listen to him and stay here,” she said. “I love being here. I love the nature aspect of it. I love the small-town values.”

Simmons said the past couple of weeks have been busy, perhaps overwhelming at times, but she’s ready for the challenge. She said she hopes to build better connections within the community and among Chamber members.

“As far as tourism and (economic development), she’s already ahead of the game,” Carawan said. “It’s a blessing. … Things weren’t getting done, so now she’s there and things are progressing.”

“I understand Hyde County’s economy and what it’s like to be a small business owner here,” Simmons said. “I want to be able to show them that there are things that are going to be done.”

Simmons will continue getting her feet wet over the next couple of weeks, but she said she already has plans for how to better promote the area.

A mixture of exciting and terrifying so far, the job is the whirlwind where she is meant to be.

“It’s just kind of a perfect storm to move back,” Simmons said. “I’m excited to share the place I call home with the world.”

The Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For questions or more information, call 252-926-9171.