Chamber seeks unified front

Published 8:32 am Friday, March 11, 2011

Sandra Gouge, chair of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce’s public relations committee, said Thursday perhaps there was a “misunderstanding” between the Chamber and the EDC about membership dues.

The Chamber’s finance committee is, she said, looking at its budget and will provide funding to the Pike County Economic Development Corporation.

“The Chamber will be sending funds to help the EDC on a quarterly basis but the portion will not be as high as it has been and it could be a flat rate,” she said. “The Chamber wants to be supportive of the EDC by being a funding partner.”

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She did not say how much that funding that would be.

Marsha Gaylard, EDC president ,told the Troy mayor and council members on Tuesday that the Chamber board of directors had notified the EDC that the Chamber would no longer contribute a portion of its membership dues to the Pike County EDC.

In 2002, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce became two entities, with membership dues supporting both community development and economic development.

The membership dues were divided between the Chamber and the EDC with 62 percent designated to the Chamber and 38 percent to the EDC.

Gaylard said that the loss of annual revenue to the EDC, estimated at around $25,000 a year, would make it necessary for the EDC to solicit additional funding partners from the community.

Gouge said Thursday that for the good of Pike County, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation and local tourism need to work together.

“It’s a three-legged stool and we need all three legs working together to move Pike County forward,” Gouge said.

The Chamber recently moved from the facility that it shared with the Pike County EDC on U.S. Highway 231 south of Troy to a downtown Troy location. As part of that move, the Chamber no longer rents office space from the EDC.

The Chamber and the EDC each receive funding from the cities of Troy and Brundidge and the Pike County Commission.

The City of Troy has an annual $35,000 contract for services with the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and $75,000 with the Pike County EDC.

The City of Brundidge also contracts with the entities at $6,000 to the Chamber and $24,000 to the EDC.

The Pike County Commission contracts for services in the amounts of $10,000 to the Chamber and $25,000 to the EDC.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said that he supports both the Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to support local businesses and the EDC in its efforts to bring new businesses to the county because both organizations are vital to the future success of the business community.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said, too, that both the Chamber and the EDC have a place in the county.

“We need to support our local businesses and we need to attract new businesses,” he said. “If we do that, we will continue to grow. We need both of these organizations and we need to work together for Pike County.”

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce has about 500 members, representing 10,000 employees.