The Salem Chamber of Commerce has quite a few things going on for the first part of the year. They discussed many plans they have in their meeting held Feb. 25. Unfortunately, one big fundraiser for the chamber has had to be cut this year.
The Salem Chamber of Commerce Annual Chamber Auction has been cancelled for this year, which was largely due to the ice storm. "So many of the chamber auction donors and the people who come out to support the auction as bidders have had losses due to the recent ice strom and with the current economic conditions, the board felt they should not have the auction this year," Pate said.
MaLinda Coffman, county extension agency staff chair, said the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is teaming up with area banks and businesses to sponsor Ready, Set, Graduate! for Salem High School juniors and seniors. Ready, Set, Graduate! is a financial management program for high-schoolers to prepare them for real-world finances and not just their monthly allowance that their parents give them. "We'll give them (students) their salaries and tell them how much they're going to make. Then, we're going to have the co-op there telling (students) how much their utilities are going to be. We'll have car dealers there selling cars. We'll have housing were people can either rent or buy, that kind of stuff," Coffman said. Booths from area businesses that actually offer these services will be set up to tell students how the financial world works.
Holly Pate, chamber president said the chamber has had some problems with people claiming the Salem Chamber of Commerce solicits advertisements. "One of our chamber members had told us that she'd received a phone call from someone soliciting ads and using our name," Pate said. "At that time, Carolyn and I sent out an e-mail to warn everybody about that, and I just want to let you all know that the chamber is not soliciting any ads whatsoever."
Salem High School FBLA and FCCLA will hold a Health and Career Day March 19 from 2 to 6 p.m. A chamber booth will be set up during that time at the school for any area businesses who want to put information out about their business.
More businesses have come to the community since the chamber last met in November. Doctors Diagnostics Clinic, an ultrasound clinic, opened in January. "I know in the Shaver Complex, Doctors Diagnostic LLC., has gone in over there, it's operated by local doctors Jim Bozeman, Rebecca Phillips and Michael Camp," Pate said. There was also a construction company that moved into Salem. A pet grooming place has also moved on the square. The chamber will look into those business to see if they want to join the Salem Chamber of Commerce and have a ribbon cutting.
George Thomas, a local certified public accountant (CPA), was the chamber's guest speaker. He spoke about new tax laws for 2008 and tax changes for 2009. He said a first time home buyer's credit was put in effect in 2008, which will help out anyone who has bought or built a home within the last three years. This credit will be about 10 percent of the total cost of the house, which will have to be paid back within the next 15 years, Thomas said.
Thomas also informed the chamber that the minimum wage will go up to $7.25 per hour by July 4. He also spoke about the new withholding tables and how the IRS audits.
Janie Flynn, Areawide Media publisher, announced the addition of Areawide Marketplace, which is a free online directory of area businesses. "We want everyone to go in a claim their business. It will have a picture of your business. I will have your basic information for anyone who has a business -- phone number, fax, your hours, that type of thing. It's free to get on," Flynn said. "It's kind of like the Yellow Pages only it's online."
Flynn said if there are any businesses that want extended services on the Areawide Marketplace, a representative will come out and try to work out a plan. The Areawide Marketplace can be viewed at www.areawidemarketplace. com.
Flynn also announce that The News is available in an e-edition, which allows subscribers to view the entire newspaper online. The e-edition is updated every Thursday at noon.
In the treasury report, Patricia Watkins, of the Bank of Salem, said the chamber has $6,642.85 in its account. The commerce has also been able to raise $3,000 for the fireworks display on July 4, which is about half of the total cost, Watkins said.
Carolyn Lewis, Fulton County Fair organizer, said the chamber has a total of 35 business and 90 individual memberships. Membership dues are $75 for businesses and $25 for individuals.
Pate said next month Randy Zook, executive director of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, will be the guest speaker. The Viola EAST Lab students will be the chamber's guest speakers for April.