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From left to right: Steve Barrow, Hammer Hill Computers; Joe Hagwood, independent insurance broker; Kimbal Campbell, assistant vice president of First Citizens Bank.

DANVILLE, Va. — Tuesday morning, dozens of businesses from across Danville and Pittsylvania County came out to the Danville Otterbots Ballpark for Morning Brew, a community networking event hosted by the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. Today marked the first time that Morning Brew has been held in person since 2019, and it was the Chamber’s first in-person event since February 2020.

The event was sponsored by both Crema and Vine and the Danville Otterbots and took place at “The Wreck,” the team’s brand-new hangout area and event space.

To kick off Morning Brew, business representatives received a warm welcome from Alexis Ehrhardt, the Chamber’s president and CEO.

“We’re very happy to be back in person,” Ehrhardt said.

Each person present took turns introducing themselves and the businesses they represented, a tradition which sets Morning Brew apart from other events of this kind, according to Ehrhardt.

“When you have a networking event, most people don’t feel comfortable going into a room of people they don’t know and just walking up and introducing themselves,” Ehrhardt said. “So this particular model, where everybody introduces themselves towards the beginning, takes some of the anxiety and the anonymity out of it. You know who’s in the room, and so you can make that connection…It makes it more intentional.”

While this was the first in-person Morning Brew since 2019, the Chamber did continue to host the event over Zoom throughout the pandemic.

Heather Satterfield, of Gateway Health, was excited to be back because of the greater opportunities in-person events provide to build relationships with community members.

“I’ve been coming to Morning Brew since Alexis got it started with the Chamber,” Satterfield said. “Of course, we had to take a small pause for the pandemic, and then we did a couple of them over Zoom, but it’s nothing like being face-to-face and actually getting to talk to people without a computer.”

Austin Scher, the general manager of the Danville Baseball Club, was excited to highlight the upcoming events at Otterbots Ballpark, including theme nights for the 21 remaining games this season. It is Scher’s hope that fostering a fun environment in which every community member “feels like they have a home here” will help to preserve the tradition of baseball in a pre-pandemic world.

“What we’re here for is the community…If you’re a baseball fan, you belong here,” Scher said.

Many of the Morning Brew guests explained that their curiosity about the Otterbots is what drew them out to the event in the first place.

John Harris, director of the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex, was particularly “excited about coming down and meeting the folks here at the Otterbots.”

“I think anything that has to do with entertainment for the community, like we do at the Ag Complex, is good for all of us… I love to hear about the excitement around an event,” Harris said.

Harris was optimistic about future opportunities to partner with other businesses in the community to contribute to entertainment as a whole in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area.

“What we try to do at the Olde Dominion Ag Complex is create an experience,” Harris said. “[Scher] is also trying to create an experience. If we all get together and create experiences, there are a lot of experiences around. Everybody has a different focus—his is on the baseball, and ours has been around the more traditional community things, like cattle sales, horse shows, tractor pulls, motocross. I love to collaborate with everybody. I can see lots of opportunities for both of us. We’re only a few miles apart. We have different missions, but the vision is similar.”

Now that it’s back in-person, the Chamber is planning to host a Morning Brew “about every other month,” so that businesses can get back to seeing familiar faces and making new connections on a regular basis.

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