New Cassville Chamber Director to take reins
Freeman: ‘Places like Cassville are the heart and soul of America’
Rachael Freeman was recently hired as the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce director.
Her training started on Oct.9, and she will serve as acting director by Oct. 30.
“I want to come in and tell people that they want to raise their families here because we have a sense of community and pride,” Freeman said. “I mean, just look at our schools and our square.”
As a graduate from Cassville in 2005, Freeman has degrees and experience to help her execute her new position for the best of the community.
“I worked at the Advertiser for nine years, so I’ve been involved with the Chamber, but I’ve been a board member for about three years,” she said.
Freeman said when the position for director opened up, she didn’t really think of it as something she wanted to do. It wasn’t until Marty Jenkins, general manager of Barry County Advertiser, said she should apply.
“I felt like I was moving toward a new season in my life and ready for a new adventure and wanted to step out of my comfort zone a bit,” Freeman said. “The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I was flooded with ideas about new ways of improving and different things that I could do through the Chamber in the director position.”
Freeman said the director position is different from the board president’s position because she wasn’t elected into it. The board members will revolve, as there are terms there, but the director is a stable position.
“I had to go through an interview process and apply for the position,” Freeman said. “There were several others that applied and were interviewed.”
According to Freeman, her responsibilities will include taking over what current director Brittany Crawford has already done and managing several different events through the Chamber.
The Chamber mission statement is to provide resources and sponsorship efforts and maintain connections that will support, strengthen and grow members’ businesses, thereby contributing to and improving the entire community and business life.
“My plans are really smaller steps that I think will pay off in a big way for smaller businesses,” Freeman said. “I have a degree in communications and a minor in business, and I am going for my master’s in social media. In one of the papers I had to write for a project for my master’s, I took the angle of how to make small towns, that lack the resources bigger communities have, to financially be seen and respected as a professional small business area.”
Freeman said she feels like there are several little things that can be done as a community or business that will open up revenue and tourism, in a bigger way.
According to Freeman, a lot of that has to do with the businesses online presence, branding or staging of businesses.
“Places like Cassville are the heart and soul of America,” Freeman said. “If we come together, we can really do a lot of impressive things. We may not have a ton of resources, but we have the heart of community that will make us excel.”
Freeman lives in Purdy with her family. She was a basketball player, softball player, in band and on the student council at Cassville High School. She then went on to play basketball at Central Methodist University and is currently studying at University of Kansas school of journalism.
“One of the big things I want to do is to really open the door to communication with the members about what their needs are and how the chamber can meet those needs,” Freeman said. “Also branching out to others in our community — not just Cassville. I mean, we live in such a prime spot where we are surrounded by Northwest Arkansas, Joplin, Springfield and Branson. Why not tap into that and feed off of it?”
At the Barry County Advertiser Freeman worked as an assistant manager.
“I have my schooling, I’ve worked on multiple campaigns and worked with a Senator for the state of Missouri,” Freeman said. “I keep up with legislation that is going on and how that might impact our community. Also, by working on campaigns, which is really marketing a candidate, I have developed quite a few connections outside of Cassville and throughout the state. I think that is something unique that I will bring to the table. Being involved in the political world, I’m confident in being able to reach out and speak with leaders on behalf of our community.”
Freeman said being from this area, she has been able to know the community and watch businesses grow.
“I think that will help show the members that we are really in this together,” Freeman said.
Freeman has also been a board member of the Cassville Community Foundation for about a year and a half, a member of Rotary Club for two years and a member of the James River Church Joplin campus, where she works on the production team.
“I am excited to be more hands on with the members businesses,” Freeman said. “I believe in Cassville and the people who are always working to make it better. I want to see Cassville succeed, I want to see it grow in a powerful way for businesses and the people that work hard every day.”
Freeman said she and Crawford will be working together during her training.
“I love Brittany and believe in everything that she has done,” Freeman said.
Crawford’s last day will be Oct. 29.
“A position was opened at Barry Electric with goBEC fiber network as a marketing specialist,” Crawford said. “I think the fiber project is such a great project for our community. I wanted to be a part of that, where I could be moving forward, but still be connected to those in the community. It just seemed like a great opportunity to take.”
Crawford has been the Cassville area Chamber of Commerce director for a little over three years.
“One of the biggest things I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated during my time as director are the connections here in Cassville and working with the community on different level projects,” Crawford said. “You become kind of like family.”
A Purdy graduate in 2007, Crawford then went on to study for two years at Crowder College in Cassville. After graduation, she went onto Missouri State where she studied event and business management.
“I have had a working relationship with Rachael for a few years, and Rachael really has a love and a drive for this community, and she really knows the community,” Crawford said. “She knows the Chamber, and what goes on in the Chamber. Rachael has a vision, and she is going to succeed with that vision because she wants nothing but the best for the memberships. I believe she will do wonderfully in this position.”
Crawford will continue to support the Chamber through Barry Electric and goBEC fiber, who are members of the Chamber of Commerce.