The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce is now accepting applications for its 2017-18 Leadership Brownwood class, an eight-month course that creates networking opportunities while teaching entrants about the history and institutions of Brown County.   

According to a Wednesday Facebook post on the Chamber page, Leadership Brownwood “is designed to increase individual and community leadership skills.” The first retreat will be on the first Wednesday in September and subsequent meetings will occur once a month on Thursdays.   

Ray Tipton is the executive director of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. He said even the most longstanding Brown County residents will learn something from the course. “It’s going to give you knowledge on the inner workings of the community in all aspects,” Tipton said. “That allows you to better understand what’s going on and be connected. If you’re in the business community, that knowledge is valuable because you’ll be able to leverage that for yourself to build a better network.”   

He said it’s also perfect for new residents. “A lot of people, especially those new to the community, tell me they want to get involved,” Tipton said. “This educates them in such a way where they’ll see for themselves … what’s going on, and they can decide for themselves, ‘Hey, I want to get involved in that.’”   

Tipton said the Leadership Brownood program was founded by the Chamber in the mid-1980s. From October to April, its monthly classes will introduce participants to aspects of the community like education, government, local business, economic development, criminal justice and tourism.   

“We will get on some vans or buses and we will go tour and have meetings throughout the city,” Tipton said. “Each meeting is themed.   

“For instance,” he said, “when we have our criminal justice session, we’ll sit in on a live court proceeding when they’re setting bonds and tour the county jail, the Ron Jackson unit and the Havins unit.”    The course begins with an opening session with leadership training and group bonding. “The cool thing about it is that you develop some strong relationships with the people in the class,” Tipton said. “They end up being, in some respects, colleagues or friends in the business community as they go on.”   

Plus, Tipton said, it’s a great way to spend a workday once a month. “You get to get out of work, because typically the employer is the one who wants their employee to get connected to the community,” he said.   

Leadership Brownwood is limited to 20 participants, and Tipton said the slots are already filling fast. Tuition is $495 per person and includes transportation, meals, course materials and class shirts.   

Those interested can get an application by stopping by the Chamber at 600 E. Depot St., by calling 325-646-9535 or by visiting www.brownwoodchamber.org.