September 13, 2017 Edition

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Chamber members urged to
find their 'piece of the puzzle'

Sue McGowan (left) visits with Dr. Tom Jones, president of Williams Baptist College, following the quarterly meeting of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

John Bland

Members of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce were challenged Thursday to find their "piece of the puzzle" and assist with the work of the Chamber in whatever way they can.

"What do you think your piece of the puzzle might be?" Sue McGowan asked, referring to how each Chamber member has the potential to make his or her unique contribution. McGowan is director of economic development and CEO of the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce and was the speaker at the quarterly Chamber meeting.

"Lesa can't do it alone," McGowan said, referring to Lesa Walter, new Chamber director.

McGowan encouraged members to consider with whom their businesses do business and to encourage them to join the Chamber. "Twenty-three percent of the Paragould Chamber's membership does not have a Paragould zip code," she said. She noted that these out-of-town businesses benefit from local business and should support the Chamber.

She also encouraged the Chamber to consider Lawrence County's piece of the regional puzzle. "People don't look at county lines any more," she said. "It's about the region."

McGowen said her great-grandfather Bristow owned a gristmill on the Strawberry River in the early 1900s and that she has attended many family gatherings over the years in Lawrence County.

Another connection to the county is that McGowen presently serves on the Williams Baptist College Board of Trustees and her son attended college there. "Williams Baptist College is a bright star for Lawrence County," she said.

She also mentioned other Lawrence County assets, such as Highway 67's designation as "Future I-57," the airport, Beatles at the Ridge festival, new housing, new jobs and agriculture.

To attract new business and industry, she said it is necessary to "be prepared" and have the land and utilities in place and other information readily available that a potential industry might need to know.

The Paragould Chamber also makes it a priority to work with existing business and industry. "We spend a lot of time on retention of business and industry."

"Think about where you want your community to be today and also 30 years from now," she said. "Think about the future. Focus on the positives but work on the negatives."

"You all have some great things going here ... and will continue to grow with progressive leadership."

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