February 27, 2013 Edition

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LawCo. Chamber
plans for progress

By Brett Cooper
Board Chair Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce

Good things are happening in Lawrence County. Tourism-related efforts are changing our local landscape. Peanuts are opening doors for agriculture and related industries. Above all, there is a general sense of excitement and optimism building here.

In short, it's a fun time to be involved with the work of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

But we are also at a crossroads. If we take advantage of the momentum and seize the chances we now have, we can continue to reverse the economic decline of the last several years. However, if we don't take advantage of the opportunities that are ours right now, they will pass us by. We will go one way or the other, and the direction is up to us.

At the LawCo. Chamber, we are determined to grasp opportunity while we have it and move Lawrence County forward. Here are just some of the priorities we have established for the year ahead to help bring economic growth to our community:

Engaging Our Members: Yes, one of the most important ways we can lead as a chamber is to get more of our own members involved in the task at hand. To do this, we are launching the "Chamber Blitz." Every few weeks, we will scatter out across the community to visit chamber members. We want to tell them what's going on with the chamber these days, let them know how they can be involved, and find out what we can do to help them.

Building Jobs From Within: Most job growth in a community comes from existing industries, so the LawCo. Chamber is redoubling its efforts with the industries we are already fortunate enough to have. Economic Development Director L.J. Bryant is making it a priority to reach out to our LawCo. industries, stay apprised of their needs and find ways we can assist them.

Selling LawCo. to Industries: To give prospective industries all the information they need about Lawrence County in one site, we are adding an Economic Development section to the Chamber website. This will include a page that lists available industrial properties in the county and other local information that prospective industries want to see at a glance.

Continuing the Tourism Momentum: Nothing has generated more excitement for the Chamber in recent years than its tourism efforts. Beatles Park, Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park and the Beatles at the Ridge Festival are all success stories. And there is more to come.

There is much more in Lawrence County that can and should be of interest to tourists: the inspiring story of the Hoxie 21; the scenic Ozark foothills of western LawCo.; the outstanding hunting to be found all across the county - all stand to bring visitors to our county, and visitors bring economic growth.

Attracting Moviemakers: The state of Arkansas is marketing itself more aggressively to moviemakers, because movie productions are a major economic boon to communities. The LawCo. Chamber will take advantage of the opportunity with a listing of potential movie sites in Lawrence County.

Building Government Relations: We continue to build bridges with all the government entities that impact economic development in Lawrence County. Each entity has a very important role to play individually, but it is the chamber's job to be the "point man" on economic development, serving as a primary contact with industrial prospects. This approach only works when all facets of government work together with the chamber, so fostering cooperation remains a priority.

Pursuing Cooperative Efforts: Economic development is a regional effort, and the LawCo. Chamber continues to work through the Intermodal Authority, Northeast Arkansas Economic Development Coalition and other groups that give us strength in numbers to bring jobs to our area. We also enjoy a great relationship with the Randolph County Chamber, helping our two counties join forces for progress.

To find out more about what your chamber is doing, check us out at www.LawCoChamber.org. We truly have a bright future ahead of us, provided we take the initiative now and seize our opportunities. Let's get to work ~ together.

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