Director leaves post at Tarboro Chamber
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
TARBORO — Susan Freeman has bid farewell as the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce’s executive director to accept a similar position in the far southeastern part of the state.
Freeman has been hired to direct the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce, which is in Shallotte near the Atlantic Coast. Additionally, Freeman’s husband, George, is leaving for South Carolina because his employer in the Twin Counties area has promoted him.
Susan Freeman and her husband accepted their respective offers within an approximately 24-hour period.
“It was kind of like a God moment,” Freeman said in an interview on Monday in describing what happened.
Monday marked the last day at the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber office for Freeman, who had been leading the business and civic organization since autumn 2015.
The Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber’s membership is at 265, up from 176 when Freeman started.
As for what she considers to be her most significant achievements at the Chamber, she said, “Working with fantastic small businesses and helping them to find their way, promoting them, supporting them — being there to be their listening ear.”
And she said she is going to miss what she calls a phenomenal Chamber board of directors.
She also said she is going to miss the Chamber staff, quipping, “If I could put them in a pocket and take them all with me, we’d all be out of here tomorrow.”
The Chamber has five staffers.
Freeman is originally from Williamsport, Pa., and she has long had a passion for small businesses, in part because her mother had a successful salon.
Freeman worked in the service industry in the Keystone State before going to Avery County, in the western part of the Tar Heel State, to work as a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity.
Eventually, she served as events and membership coordinator at the Avery County Chamber of Commerce before becoming that organization’s executive director.
After she and her husband moved to the Twin Counties area, she became involved with the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber as an ambassador. She served as interim executive director before being hired for the top position.
Her husband works for QVC, which has a distribution facility in Edgecombe County. He is going to be working for the company in Florence, S.C.
Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber Board Chairwoman Donna Dew, in an email, praised Freeman.
“Sue has done an outstanding job over the last four years by increasing membership, offering more benefits to members and connecting the Chamber with more business throughout the county and training the staff she has managed,” Dew said.
Tina Parker, who is coordinator of the Main Street revitalization program in downtown Tarboro, said working with Freeman was a good experience.
“She always has brought a lot of energy and has done a great job to make connections within Edgecombe County and the surrounding areas,” Parker said. “So I feel like she’s going to do the same thing for Brunswick County.”
News of Freeman’s departure shocked Barbara Molten, who owns Farm Life Pet & Feed Store downtown. Molten said she had no idea Freeman had even thought about leaving.
Molten said Freeman did her grand opening of her business last year, with a lot of people attending the event.
“We hit it off,” Molten said of her relations with Freeman.
Molten described Freeman as easygoing and nice but also with a can-do spirit.
“She tried to boost everything downtown,” Molten said.
The Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber is going to be led on an interim basis by Chamber staffer Elizabeth Burns.
Burns said she is going to continue to support the small businesses and the corporate members and make sure Chamber-related events go on as planned.
At the same time, Burns said she is interested in being named Freeman’s successor because her family is from Edgecombe County.
“This is my home,” Burns said. “I love the businesses here, the people here. It’s just a great place to be.”
Burns earned a degree in business administration in 2014 from William Peace University.
Burns was a stay-at-home mother before Freeman approached her about working for the Chamber.
As for what she is going to miss about Freeman, Burns said, “Her spunk and her leadership.”
“She’s just an awesome person,” Burns said.