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Spring Hope Chamber to focus on businesses

The Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce is working on a strategic plan focusing on helping to advance businesses in town.

Mary Penny Kelley, President of the Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce, said the plan includes several parts: promoting and retaining existing businesses, recruiting new businesses, making strong connections through the Chamber's membership program, and revitalizing vacant spaces.

To devote more time and energy to businesses, some events of the town have been "skinnied down," she said. A few of those events are the 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run, the Pumpkin Festival, and Christmas in Spring Hope.

The 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run will be held in April and registration is open now.

"We will try to promote businesses through all of the activities surrounding the race," Kelley said.

The Pumpkin Festival has been reduced from two half days to one full day. It will be held all day on a Saturday in October instead of both Friday and Saturday.

The chamber is seeking volunteers to provide entertainment and aid with coordinating the event. Anyone interested in helping with the Pumpkin Festival process can attend the planning meeting on 6:30 p.m. March 13th at the Chamber of Commerce office.

Christmas in Spring Hope will be sometime in December.

Kelley also mentioned Business After Hours will be before the Chamber of Commerce meeting begins on March 27th at 5:30 p.m.

The Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce has started an Ambassador Program as one of the ways of retaining existing businesses. According to Kelley, the program is where each board officer meets with existing members first, then expand to any other current businesses.

"We're hoping to talk to them (businesses) about what they're doing, what they need, what their next steps are and how the chamber can help them," she explained.

The chamber also anticipates to set up two grant programs. The first grant program is for signage which involves updating business signs and publicizing businesses. The second grant program is what Kelley calls the "If I Only grant program," consisting of small projects that a small amount of money could be put towards or organizing labor to help businesses.

For recruiting new businesses, the chamber will design a program to find new businesses to come to the town.

Kelley said the chamber is currently surveying all residents in town to see what types of businesses they would like to have in town. After the chamber gathers the necessary information needed, it will create a program of incentives to draw new businesses into town.

The chamber will also create an Ambassador Program for new businesses while they are in the recruitment stage. Under the program, the businesses will have a single point of contact from the chamber to help them navigate obstacles, Kelley stated.

New businesses will be provided a Welcome Package which includes a grand opening and ceremony.

"A lot of people would want to come here because of that small town community and knowing all of their neighbors and customers so we want to build on that," she said.

The chamber would also like to place a listing of businesses on its website for people to be informed about what is happening in town.

Making strong connections through the Chamber's membership program involves providing education businesses need and connecting with community colleges on training, according to Kelley.

The next training will be on identity theft, cybersecurity and how businesses can remain safe online.

For the final part of the strategic plan, revitalizing vacant spaces, Kelley said the chamber is in the process of contacting each commercial building owner to find out what space is vacant, what type of businesses the space is suitable for, and if repairs are necessary to prepare for customers.

"We've taken on an ambitious agenda, but we got it step wise," she remarked.

In other business, Emory New, Miss Pumpkin Queen 2016/2017, and Madison Hart, Little Miss Pumpkin Queen 2016/2017, presented information about the third annual Spring Hope Clean Up Day.

Spring Hope Clean Up Day was founded by Taryn Reams, the 2014/2015 Little Miss Pumpkin Queen. The event is sponsored by the Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce.

The purpose of the clean up day is to tidy up the town in preparation for the 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run.

This year, Spring Hope Clean Up Day will take place on April 8th from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. New said volunteers are asked to meet 7:45 a.m. at the Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce office and to bring their own gloves and pick up claws.

Water, snacks and trash bags will be provided.

On another note, Town Engineer Kevin Varnell of Stocks Engineering stated the price of the speed tables for the Powell Bill Project is $4,000 per speed table.

The Powell Bill Project will help upgrade and maintain the town's public streets through funds provided by the state. According to Town Manager Jae Kim, the budget allotted for the project is $108,992.46.

Streets included in the project are McLean Street, Second Street, and recently added South Poplar Street. Kim said all of the streets will be resurfaced and repaved and two speed tables will be added to McLean Street.

In other news, the Board of Commissioners have to appoint a member of local government or a representative of the town to serve on the Spring Hope Fire Board for 2017.

The Spring Hope Fire Board typically meets once a month, on the second Monday of every month. Kim said the fire board usually "discusses financial things" for the town's fire department.

Commissioner Daryl Emig said he cannot serve on the fire board this year due to work conflict. He noted the fire department mentioned Commissioner Drew Griffin.

Kim said he would talk to Commissioner Griffin to see if he is available to serve on the fire board.

On a different note, Josh Bennett of Envirolink announced leaves and limbs pickup is March 15th and 16th and April 5th and 6th.

Also, Lt. Allen Proctor said there will be a blood drive at the town's fire department on May 17th.

The commissioners will speak about issues more on Monday, April 3rd.

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