Andalusia, Opp chambers see growth in ‘14

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer can represent a lull for some businesses and organizations, but the Opp and Andalusia chambers of commerce are using it as a springboard for the rest of the year.

Emilee Gage of the Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber will hold a ribbon cutting event Thurs., July 3, for new business, and soon-to-be member, fireworks shop Arctic Blast. It will also host an open house event Fri., July 11, to welcome its newest member, restaurant Nattie Belles Gatlin Place, on Covington Avenue.

Gage said the two new additions brings the chamber’s new-member total to six for 2014, adding she hopes that number will continue to grow throughout the summer.

“We have a couple of new members, and we’re quite proud of that,” Gage said. “It’s not as many as last year yet, but we’ve had a couple of new businesses in Opp that haven’t joined yet.”

For businesses that have not yet become part of the chamber, Gage said there are plenty of perks.Round-Chamber-Logo

“The chamber is for all businesses in Opp,” she said. “We can help promote business; you get community support. We are part of city-sponsored events like the Rattlesnake Rodeo and the Fourth of July. And, if you’re having any kind of sale or special event, I’m happy to help.”

In Andalusia, this year has also been a success for Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Chrissie Duffy, who took over the chamber reins in February.

“It’s been great so far,” Duffy said. “We are well over budget for membership dues, so in essence that means we are bringing in new members even better than we expected to be by a pretty significant amount.”

Duffy said a whopping 21 businesses have joined the chamber so far this year, although not all are new to Andalusia.

“We’ve also had a lot of businesses that have joined back that had left us that aren’t on that list,” she said.

Duffy said she attributes much of this year’s success to improved communication between the chamber, which held its last ribbon cutting Thursday at Epiphany’s Therapeutic Message on S. Three Notch Street, and the Andalusia community.

“We’ve definitely got the momentum on our side,” she said. “But a lot of it has to do with communication. If you are actually doing something, businesses and people want to be involved in it.”

While both Duffy and Gage said churches and non-profit organizations are also a big part of the chamber, Duffy added bringing them all together is what yields positive results.

“The whole point is to bring the businesses together and we can be more of a presence,” Duffy said. “What I’m excited about is wherever there is strong chamber interaction, the more people get involved and the more we can accomplish. We want to really promote our economy; have tourist attractions; give people a reason to stay and participate. That’s the goal.”

Gage too said her biggest job is helping business owners and those running organizations and churches.

“I’m happy to help anyone promote their business or get their message out,” she said. “We have a quarterly meeting coming up at the end of the summer or the beginning of fall that people are welcome to join.”

Duffy too said promotion is key, adding a new program syncing the chamber’s calendar of events with that of the City of Andalusia and the Andalusia City School System is currently in the works to allow a more accessible location for people to find information about the Andalusia community.

“The chamber’s biggest advantage is that we can share info,” she said. “We’re really good at helping get word out.”

Gage said anyone interested in joining the Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce may contact her at 334.493.3070. Duffy said she may be reached at the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce at 334.222.2030.