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City of Emporia Mayor Dr. Carolyn Carey prepares to cut the ribbon during Thursday’s Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Jensen Mechanical. Pictured from left are Greensville County Board of Supervisors Chair Belinda Astrop, Virginia 75th District House Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Jensen Mechanical co-owner Melissa Jensen, Carey, Jensen Mechanical co-owner Niels Jensen, Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce President William Robinson, Sussex County Supervisor Rufus Tyler, City of Emporia Director of Economic Development Beverly Hawthorne, Emporia City Manager William Johnson.

In March of 2020, the pandemic took the spotlight in the community forcing many gatherings we take for granted into hibernation. The Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours events disappeared for nearly 16 months. The hugs, back-slapping, and smiles took center stage Thursday evening as Chamber members headed to 427 South Main St. in Emporia for the Business After Hours at Jensen Mechanical.

“It’s so nice to get back,” Nancy Rose, EGCC executive director, said. “Wow — after 15 or 16 months, this is the first time we were able to do this. We had people calling left and right, and they showed up despite the weather. They are ready to get out and see people again. We’re excited.”

Emporia-Greensville local business leaders supporting each other is nothing new. It played a vital role in the survival of several businesses as the COVID-19 roadblock negatively impacted every facet of life. Thursday’s gathering featured the celebration of local business leaders coming together and highlighting Jensen Mechanical on its ribbon-cutting celebration. Jensen Mechanical owners Niels and Melissa Jensen started the morning with a 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. open house for the community. The business is in the historic Masonic Lodge building that was erected in 1905. The Jensens’ extensive remodeling of the site certainly caught the attention of people viewing the structure.

The ribbon-cutting plans were altered due to heavy rain outdoors. So the Jensens, local leaders, and Mayor Carolyn Carey improvised and cut the ribbon indoors. It officially consummated the long-overdue welcoming of Jensen Mechanical to the fold that had been delayed by the pandemic.

Chamber Board member Scott Thompson of S.A. Thompson & Associates is pleased with the EGCC Business After Hours return.

“It’s great to show the support we have for the Chamber and the support we have for each other,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s hard when you don’t see each other face to face. To me, business is all about relationships, and that’s a vital function of the Chamber. It’s bringing people together to promote those relationships. Tonight, I’m hearing business conversations, and people just check on the well-being of others. This is great.”

EGCC President William Robinson appeared joyful for the gathering. He also seemed to be relieved.

“It’s been more than a year, and it’s nice to get back to doing what we are supposed to be doing and promote business,” he said. “It’s nice to get back some sense of normalcy.”