Randy Zook, president of the State Chamber of Commerce, was supposed to be the guest speaker at the Salem Chamber of Commerce meeting March 25. However, Susie Marx, senior vice president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, took his place as guest speaker and presented some ideas to the Salem Chamber of Commerce.
According to Marx, Zook could not make it to the meeting because he had to testify in two Senate committees on legislation in Little Rock. She said one committee had to do with energy and the other had to deal with taxes.
She said the state chamber has an active role in government. "Actually, that's what we do at the state chamber level," Marx said. "Our first goal is governmental affairs."
"We have two full-time lobbyists on staff and they're down at the capital every day looking at legislation that will affect businesses," Marx said. "It keeps us busy."
Marx said she came to the meeting to speak about ways businesses can turn things around in this weak economy. Marx spoke of having business plans and being able to network with businesses and people in the community to find out what they offer in the way of what a business needs.
She said some businesses that are struggling will lay employees off. "We think that a lot of businesses need to look at their employees. If you don't have your employees engaged in your business, your day to day operations of your business, you may be missing out on some smart people who work for you. Those who have ideas that can help their business grow, but you never asked. You know, they just come in, and you give them a job to do, and they do it and go home at 5 p.m., and they never were offered anything to your business to make it grow," Marx said.
She said employers should look at their employees as a resource to help grow their business rather than lay them off to save money.
Marx also advised chamber members to look towards members who have been with the chamber for a long time. She said their experience may be able to help those who are just starting out or who are struggling with their business.
Marx said many people who have businesses don't realize that the chamber is there to help them if they have problems. Many don't realize that the chamber is a great resource for networking with other businesses and finding different ways to solve problems.
She also said the state chamber can also help chambers within the state by providing programs and education on how to get more businesses in their area.
The spring community wide yard sale is coming up April 4 and will begin that day at 8 a.m. Carolyn Lewis, the Fulton County Fair manager, said the chamber is taking resident addresses of anyone who wants to hold a yard sale that day. The addresses are so the chamber can put together a map that would tell potential buyers where yard sales will be held on that day. Vendors will also have booths set up at the fairgrounds on that day for the sixth annual Fairground Flea market.
Monte McCullough presented the T-shirt design for the 60th Anniversary Homecoming in Salem, which will be May 22 through 23. Activities throughout the days will feature a street dance, open market, food booths, Apple Pie 5K Run, squirt race, horseshoe pitching, terrapin race, music and parade. Those who want to volunteer with homecoming activities can attend the meetings. Call the chamber at 895-5565 for more information.
Holly Pate, the chamber president, said the deadline for the chamber scholarship is April 30. This scholarship is for Salem and Viola seniors. Pate said the chamber scholarship is for $500. She said the chamber will have to form a scholarship committee to choose which student receives the scholarship.
Fireworks at the park scheduled for July 4 is another activity that is fast approaching. Pate said Jerry Estes suggested that since the chamber didn't have their silent auction this year that the chamber start the raffle early this year. The raffle will be for a gun donated by Wal-Mart and proceeds will go towards the fireworks display.
Patricia Watkins will be the chair for the chamber banquet this year, according to Pate. During the banquet, there will be a silent auction.
Pate said the chamber set up a booth at the Health and Career Fair at the Salem High School. "The fair went very well this year," Pate said. "They (the students) said it was a lot better than last year and more people attended and such."
Pate also said the chamber passed out folders containing information about the chamber and what businesses and individuals are involved. She said new businesses need to get cards and information about their businesses to her to add to the folders at the next meeting.
CPA George Thomas cleared up some items discussed in the last meeting. Thomas was the guest speaker for last month's chamber meeting and he spoke about new tax laws for 2008 and tax changes for 2009. Thomas attended March's meeting to clear up any confusion over what was published in the March 5 issue of The News. The newspaper published that anyone who has bought a home within the last three years is eligible for the first time homeowners' tax credit. Thomas said this was not correct. He said those who bought a home between April 8, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2008, would receive a 10 percent credit of up to $7,500. Those who will purchase a house between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 30, 2009, will receive a 10 percent tax credit of up to $8,000.
Another mistake in the paper was that minimum wage would increase to $7.25 per hour on July 4. Thomas corrected that mistake and said the change would not come until July 24.
In the treasury report, Watkins said the chamber has $7,453.41 and no outstanding bills. She also said there is $3,000 in the fireworks fund.
Lewis reported that the chamber has 39 business members and 14 individual members.
Glenna O'Neil, of the Horseshoe Bend Chamber of Commerce, was at the chamber meeting and spoke a bit about the coalition of the chambers between Berryville and Calico Rock and about reciprocal membership. The Salem Chamber of Commerce invited her to come to another meeting to talk about these two ideas in more detail.
The next Salem Chamber of Commerce meeting is scheduled for April 29 at noon in the Orange Room at the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative Headquarters. The guest speakers will be students from the Viola EAST Lab.