Update from the Chamber of Commerce

Views on economy remain mixed

Which numbers you read will determine whether you think our economy is improving, or worsening, or remaining stable. One thing appears certain, however; the road to recovery will be a slow and steady process at best.

That appears to be happening in Blount County in our business community. After visiting many of our merchants over the past couple of months, we have found a number of varying outlooks on the economy.

Some business owners report a very positive first quarter. Others report things are about the same as last year. Several businesses are optimistic about the second quarter and beyond, and a few positive indicators point in that direction.

The fact that new construction in housing and retail has begun in early 2011 around Blount County is the best sign. The west Blount area will see a new medical clinic/diagnostic center under construction, as well as a new Dollar General store.

The Oneonta area has seen several new businesses open in the past quarter, including a new State Farm Insurance agency, the new Peoples Bank, and a new restaurant, Pollo Lucas.

The Chamber has also learned that a number of our Blount County industries have acquired new contracts or have renewed existing long-term contracts. This is terrific news for these business owners and their employees.

The stability of our existing industry and the recruitment of additional sources of employment are crucial to our long-term economic recovery. So while we continue to struggle in the retail sector as a whole, a few positive signs give us hope for a brighter future.

We are excited that membership in the Chamber continues to grow, and we appreciate those that have joined. We still need your help, however. Please consider a business or an individual membership to your Chamber. By becoming a member, you become part of a local TEAM interested in the betterment of YOUR community. You also show your support of your fellow business owners in Blount County. Call the Chamber office at 274-2153 and ask how to become a member.

We have recently received calls from concerned business owners about outof state companies saying they were working with the Chamber trying to sell various items. The Chamber is NOT working with anyone nor have we endorsed anyone. The only project we are currently working on is the Newcomers’ Book, and Aimee Wilson and I are meeting with local businesses about advertising. If you ever have any questions concerning suspicious solicitations, please call us immediately.

Everyone is invited to the Chamber Breakfast on Wednesday, April 27. Our speaker will be Judge John Dobson, who oversaw founding of and presides over the Blount County Drug Court. This innovative and extremely productive court system will be the subject of the program.

We will also welcome the United Way of Central Alabama as they present their yearly allocations to several well deserving charities. Come see what some of our outstanding local leaders are doing to make Blount County an even better place to live. The Chamber will continue to spotlight some of our local programs through the year in an effort to inform our citizens as to the positive things going on in our own backyard.

Let’s continue to work together as Blount Countians toward a brighter future. Our best days are still ahead of us!