After retiring as the CEO and Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital three years ago, Patti Jurkus has gone back to work. Now she is president and CEO of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. Her first day in the new job was July 11. She is no stranger to the organization. She has been involved with the Chamber for 25 years and has served on the board of directors in various capacities.

“The Chamber is so important to this community,” said Jurkus, explaining why she accepted this job. Jurkus stepped out of retirement because she feels the Chamber is very important. She said she felt honored to have been asked to take the job.

Here very first task, with her husband’s help, was to do some work to make the Chamber’s headquarters on Main Street look more welcoming.

“I wanted the building to look loved,” she said.

She said it is especially important to small business. Jurkus said the Chamber has a very diverse board of directors. It can put small business owners in touch with people who can help them.

“There is a world of knowledge within the Chamber board,” she said.

She said one problem they have heard a lot about is the worker shortage. Jurkus said the Chamber is working to help by developing a relationship with the schools to help graduates find local jobs. She said the Chamber’s internship program has been a big success.

As part of dealing with the worker shortage, businesses are trying to do more with less. Jurkus said the Chamber wants to help by taking tasks off local business owners’ plate.

Along with businesses, the Chamber is here to help non-profit organizations. They have people who can help non-profits.

“What is it that we can do for your business,” Jurkus asks.

To learn more, she plans to visit as many businesses as she can. She has a good feel for the area because she was born and raised here.

Jurkus has been the only change. All the rest of the staff is still in place. Kayla Waller is still director of marketing and events. Lillie Colman is still event coordinator. Tina Milton is still administrative assistant.

The Chamber has a big event, its annual Excellence in Business Awards event scheduled for Sept. 8. The event will be held at Cedar Oaks Farm from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“We have received some excellent nominations,” Jurkus said. All the businesses have been nominated by other local businesses.

The event will feature a silent auction.

“Silent auction items are phenomenal this year,” Jurkus said.

Tickets for the event are now on sale. If you would like to reserve one, call (540) 586-9401.

Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital is the award program title sponsor.

The Chamber’s annual Christmas Market will be held on Nov. 12. This event will take place at Central Virginia Community College’s Bedford Campus.