Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce restructures

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Staff Writer

Although the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce office remains closed, board members and members are working hard to keep the chamber an active part of the community.

"We are organizing," president Clint Wiles said. "We're backing up and regrouping."

Since the chamber office closed in late September new board members have been elected and are looking to the future.

In the past, the chamber has not had a workable budget, said board member Charlotte Goodwin. When the board decided to restructure, a budget was one of its primary goals, she said.

"The board, as a whole, is sitting down and going over every expenditure and trying to adopt a reasonable budget," Goodwin said. "We need to know how much money we can expect to receive and how much we can expect to spend."

After determining a budget, the board will go to individual cities and the county to try to gain pledges for the chamber. The board could also ask some businesses for pledges, Wiles said.

The board is looking at fund-raising events and determining what works and what doesn't. Those that aren't as successful will be eliminated, so members can focus on other aspects of the chamber.

"Basically the chamber members were so tied up doing fund-raisers they weren't able to work on economic development and work closely with area businesses," Wiles said. "We need fund-raisers but we need people on other committees too. The big thing now is getting people to step up to the plate and help."

In the past the tourist information center was the primary expense of the chamber, Wiles said. To cut costs and operate more efficiently, the chamber Web site (www.sracc.com) has been revamped to give a more modern look and provide more information to visitors of the site, Wiles said.

"I have lots of dreams for the Web site," Wiles said. "I hope it will become a huge tool to get information out to the people all over the country."

At a community meeting in August the board announced the chamber would not have enough money to last through the annual radio auction scheduled for spring 2005, typically the chamber's largest fund-raiser.

"It came down to we either shut the chamber down as a whole or we shut the tourist information center down," Wiles said.

The board decided to change the direction of the chamber, close the office temporarily and eliminate the executive director position, the only paid staff position.

"Something like this you're not going to fix it in a month or two, but we can lay the groundwork and improve each month," Wiles said.

Since the closing, membership remains about the same and blue ribbon welcomes are still being held.

"We are reorganizing, restructuring and we're going to be bigger and better," Goodwin said. "We're standing back and taking another look and looking toward the future. I think the future really looks good."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: