Programs & Events
The annual Chamber Retreat has been an important element of our organization for almost 50 years. Typically held at the end of January, the Retreat provides an opportunity for local business leaders, community members, and elected officials to come together to discuss the Chamber’s body of work, community initiatives, and local needs.
The annual Rub O’the Green Golf Tournament is typically held in March on the Friday closest to St. Patrick’s Day and is a combination of networking, business, and fun. The Rub O’the Green allows us to celebrate industry success, showcase our community, and serves as a great opportunity for business leaders to bring in their clients or colleagues from other areas to get them connected with the Sumter business community and showcase what Sumter has to offer.
Designed to be the Chamber’s premier event, the Annual Gala is a celebration of the previous year’s achievements both for the Chamber as well as local business leaders. Awards such as the Philip L. Edwards Business Person of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, Educator of the Year and Military Citizen of the Year are presented. Incoming and outgoing board members are recognized, and the incoming Chair takes the gavel. The Annual Gala is a formal event that is typically held the first Thursday of April at the beginning of the Chamber’s fiscal year.
In recognition of National Small Business Week, typically the first full week in May, this annual event celebrates the efforts, achievements and successes of small business members within the Greater Sumter area; while encouraging the Sumter community to shop locally at small, independently owned businesses. The Small Business of the Year award is also presented at this time.
The Commander’s Breakfast is generally held in July/August and provides an opportunity for Shaw AFB leadership to address members of the local community. Speakers typically include the Commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, Base Commander, and/or leaders of other units located on Shaw. The presentation helps local citizens understand the mission and activities of the airmen and soldiers living and working in our community.
The Military Appreciation Picnic is held on Shaw AFB every year around the end of September and is a Thank You to the active duty airmen and soldiers as well as the DOD civilians working at Shaw AFB. Over 1000 hamburgers and hotdogs with sides are cooked, prepared, and served by volunteers, including local community leaders. Our member businesses also have an opportunity to set up a table at the event to showcase their goods and services.
The Porches of Sumter is one of the year’s most anticipated community events. It is a casual event that is open to the public and typically held on the first Thursday in October. Homeowners in the historic downtown Sumter area welcome guests to their porches and invite them to sample some of Sumter’s best southern dishes prepared by local cooks, restaurants, and caterers. The approximately 500 attendees, representing all segments of the community, come together to enjoy live music, great food, and fine southern hospitality.
The State of the Chamber is a great opportunity for Chamber members, prospective members, and Sumter residents to receive an update from the Chamber President & CEO on the Chamber’s current and upcoming community endeavors. Attendees can ask questions in an open forum setting about the Chamber’s body of work, and/or questions can be addressed individually to members of the Chamber staff afterwards during the reception. The State of the Chamber is typically held in November.
The Legislative Breakfast is held the beginning of December and allows business leaders, local elected officials, community members, and leadership from Shaw AFB to interact directly with our local Legislative Delegation. After providing an update on the accomplishments from the previous year and the plans for the upcoming legislative session, attendees are then allowed to submit questions about issues that are important to them and would like to see addressed by our delegates in the State House.
The Leadership Sumter Program began over 30 years ago, with a redesign of the curriculum in 2014. This is a nine-month program that focuses on leadership development with readings, discussions, and projects designed to improve leadership skills for any level of professional. The Leadership Sumter program is a great investment in the future of Sumter because stronger leaders make stronger communities. Annual class size averages between 15 and 25 people, and includes participants from all areas of business, industry, and public service. This program begins in September and end with a class graduation in May.
The FUEL Program, created in 2018, is an interactive course of study designed to assist entrepreneurs and new business owners by providing knowledge, instruction, and resources to help ensure success when starting a new business. This is an annual seminar series held once a week for seven weeks, conducted by local industry leaders with expertise in the following five key areas of study: Finance, Legal, Insurance, Accounting, and Marketing. This program is open to the public with class size limited to 20 people.
The Golden Apple Awards are an opportunity to recognize students that exhibit outstanding character traits. Instead of focusing on academics or athletics like many forms of recognition, the Gold Apple Awards recognizes students for citizenship, honesty, integrity, stewardship, and honorable behavior. The winners are nominated by their teachers or administrators and their families are invited to attend the award presentations, which are held at 10 breakfasts throughout the school year one at each local middle and high schools.
The Career Leadership Forums program allows for career professionals from a variety of career fields to interact with a group of students at each of the middle and high schools to help ignite the passion needed to develop a healthy perspective for their future careers, quality of life, and community. Over the course of 2 hours, roundtable and leadership discussions emphasize the importance of education, appearance, attire, attitude, attendance, punctuality, communication, initiative, and teamwork. In turn, the students form into small groups and select a company to visit for a firsthand look into the world of work.