Officials with the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Industry are seeing progress on the completion of the merger. The new entity’s board met for a meeting Monday after hosting an In The Know last Thursday to inform the public about the recent changes. Jane Nielsen, Interim Executive Director, says the new organization will continue to help existing business and find new business for Shelby County.
“We will still do economic development for existing business and new business. Often people see Chamber of Commerce handling retail and economic development bringing new business to town. Well between 84 and 87 percent of business growth in rural counties comes from existing business so it is important to help out the businesses out there whether they are mom and pop or a large business.”
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry board have already made a few changes as the chamber gift certificates are opened back up to all businesses in the county and the golf tournament has been moved to Tuesday, September 9th. The new board consisting of four people from the former DevelopSource board and four from the former Chamber board are working on a new dues structure for chamber members.
“They set up a committee to work on the dues and membership structure. Kevin Campbell headed that up and did a lot of work. They looked at the existing due structures and due structures from four, five or six chamber of commerce around us and they have nailed down a general look at it and it was presented at the In The Know and now they have to tweak it. I believe they have another meeting planned next week to finalize it and then the board will finalize it as well.”
Nielsen says financially the organization is in good shape.
“Funding from DevelopSource is secure for the next two years from our main funding resources and there will be dues that make up the rest of the budget. The money will be there to do the things that they want to do. They want to continue doing the things the Chamber has done in the past. They have looked at resurrecting some events in the past ten to fifteen years that they have done. There are always new people in the community, new blood to work on a committee and you can build on the past and come up with new ideas. We are looking for new ideas and looking for people to join the committees and lots of opportunities out there.”
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board Kevin Campbell says the board’s focus has been on administrative work. “The board has been working significantly on getting the administrative items completed. Late last week, we filed our articles of merger and some of the documentation with the Secretary of State. Just yesterday (Tuesday), we heard back from them they are recognizing that. Now we can go forward and get a lot of other administrative stuff done. Our banking accounts established and appropriate people that can transact on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.” He says the other thing the board is looking for is a new director.
“We’re working on a job description for a new director. What we have learned from past situations like this is it is going to take about 90 days to get through that process. We have a number of resources to help us with that process. We will be reaching out to state levels, state organizations and economic development organizations to get that job listing out to get a list of candidates. We will be going through the interview process and find the right individual for our situation here in Shelby County.”
Campbell says in the coming months more information on the Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be released but for now the board wants the public to know this is going to be a countywide organization.
“Well that’s what we hope to communicate. A lot of what we have said so far is that we want to do that and that is a hard job to do. Where the rubber meets the road is if we actually execute on that and that really needs to be the focus. We are not just focused on Harlan but we are also focused on the communities throughout Shelby County. Each one of our communities has some type of asset and we need to leverage those in each communities have so we can help them develop. Whether it be bring a business in or expanding an existing business and leveraging those assets the best we can. It is going to be a challenge that is going to be a hard job to do. Right now the board is making sure that happens.”