Chamber meeting March 2017

Chamber finance director Tina Robinson keeps notes while Chamber board chair Britt Madden Jr. leads the discussion on a coming increase in annual dues. 

Kevin Myrick

Members of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce will be seeing their annual rates increase slightly in the coming calendar year when their bills come due again, the first time the organization has increased in eight years.

Chamber board members voted unanimously to allow Executive Director Tamaka Hudson and the finance task force to go ahead with an increase to costs for local businesses.

Rates are going up for the first time since 2009 for businesses in several categories of business size, and for individual members as well.

Those with 1-10 employees will only see annual costs go up $20, from the current rate of $175 to $195. The increase goes up by $25 for every other category, with businesses with 11-20 employees to pay $225 instead of $210, 21-40 will pay $275 instead of $250, and larger businesses with 41-50 employees will pay dues of $350 as compared to the current rate of $325.

Industries and organizations with more than 50 employees will also see an increase of $25, going from $325 to $350 as well. However, they also pay an extra $2 per employee, with those added onto invoices depending on how many are on the payroll annually adjusted.

Individual members have also seen their Chamber dues increase for the coming year as well, jumping from $110 to $125. Associate members continue to only pay half the cost of a membership.

Hudson said that rates hadn’t changed in years, and would be one way to help cover expenses at the Chamber.

“We think this gets us going in the right direction and get our pricing up to date,” she said.

The new rates won’t become due for members until their bill comes during the 2018 calendar year. So those members who have bills coming up will continue to pay the current rate, not the changed rate that will take effect in full on Jan. 1, 2018.

Rates haven’t changed for other types of businesses operating in Polk County. Utilities still pay $500 for their membership, and banks pay $1,500.

Polk Medical Center as part of Floyd Healthcare Management Inc., pays $2,500 for their membership in the chamber since they are a hospital system.

The Chamber committees are also looking at marketing plans to drive membership and premium partnerships.

Those would include ideas for sponsorships for Chamber-based events, like naming rights for the Homespun Festival held annually in Rockmart, for instance.

Part of that equation for the Chamber will be in taking information gathered in surveys from business leaders and seeing what value can be generated from the sponsorships.

Hudson expected to present further information about sponsorship opportunities in the coming board meeting in April.

Gateway signage beautification project under discussion

Now that new gateway signage has been installed at points along highways and byways entering Polk County, the question has come up from one local organization’s leader about who will be making sure the entrances to the county look pristine.

Keep Polk Beautiful’s executive director Vance Voinche asked the Chamber to consider forming a committee and coming up with a plan to beautify and provide maintenance around the signage that was put up at the county line.

Voinche said that he envisioned several ideas, from putting up bricks around the sign and seasonal plantings and maintenance to provide a welcoming site for drivers coming to Aragon, Cedartown or Rockmart.

“I have the volunteers who are willing to do the work, but we need to come up with a plan of what we want to do around the signs,” he said.

The problem with any potential beautification project around the signage will be dealing with the rules of the roadside put in place by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Since they own the right of way space where the signs stand, the Chamber has to keep within specific guidelines about what can go around the signage and on the posts in which they stand.

Though Chamber board members were interested in potential ideas for making the gateways into Polk County looking nice for visitors and local residents driving into the county alike, they were unsure of what the next steps would be immediately.

“You need to pick someone who will be really interested in keeping up with this as an ongoing project,” Voinche said.

Chamber’s May meet the officials event coming up

Mark calendars for May 4 as the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber plans to hold an event to help the community connect with those officials in charge of running municipal governments.

The Chamber is playing host at the Board of Commissioner’s Meeting Room from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. an event that Hudson is promoting as a way for local voters to get to know those people who run the cities and counties better.

Hudson said there will be a brief introduction at the beginning of the event, styled much like an after-hours networking session. Light refreshments will be available, and the event is open to the public free of cost.

The Chamber also has the date for the upcoming 2017 Candidate Forum on the calendar as well.

Save the date for Thursday, Sept. 28, with more information to come about this year’s forum this summer as candidates announce their intentions in the elections.