Treasurer George Thomas spoke at the Salem Chamber of Commerce meeting Feb. 26 about plans for the Salem Industrial Development Corporation (SIDC) to develop a Web site that promotes the area and business climate in Salem.
Thomas said the site would have information based on what national site consultants are looking for when researching a prospective town for the relocation of businesses. The board discussed reinstituting the $250,000 Handshake program to encourage new business to relocate to the Salem area.
The Handshake program is an incentive proposal to bring industry to the area. It requires certain criteria including how many jobs will be brought to the area and potential tax revenue.
The first time the program was implemented Cel-Star plant was recruited through the program and came to the area. Thomas said the chamber and SIDC could work together to bring retail businesses to the area.
Past chamber president Hans Oliver attended the Chicago Manufacturer Trade Show the week of March 10. It is one of the largest trade shows in the industry. The state of Arkansas had the largest booth in the show. The purpose of the show is to find businesses that are interested in relocating to other areas. SIDC sent Oliver to the trade show in cooperation with North Arkansas Electric Cooperative.
Oliver has shown one company the building that formerly housed the Tri-County Shirt Factory. No decisions have been made whether the company is interested in leasing the facility.
Washam's Salvage located on the square is going out of business at the end of March. Chamber members discussed the need to of contact businesses on the square to see how the chamber could help promote the area.
Fulton County has joined Mountain Home officials and is now a part of a regional economic development group. The group will cooperate with each other to bring new industry to the area. The trend in economic development is to regionalize because that is what site consultants are looking for.
The need for another grocery store was discussed. Several stores have been in contact with local business people about relocating to the area. Inquiries have been made about moving to the facility at Sky View Shopping Center. But prospective companies lose interest when they find out they cannot move to the facility because of an agreement between the management and the local grocery store.
Carolyn Lewis announced the Fair Association plans to construct a building at the fairgrounds. The facility will be air-conditioned and can be used for meetings, sport shows, home shows and gun shows.
Secretary Karen McFarren said she will have a report at the March meeting on how many people are using the Salem Welcome Center. McFarren said she needs volunteers to man the center when it reopens. The goal is to keep the center open six days a week.
Plans are almost complete for the radio auction which is scheduled for the last week in March. Chairman Gary Phillips suggested businesses donate items which are connected to their businesses.