February 20, 2003

SCBPA CONSIDERS CHAMBER CHANGE

By Jeff Behrens

About 40 members of the Scotland County Business and Professional Association met on February 11 at Java Jitters to decide the merits of becoming a chamber of commerce.

"The main goal of the change is to get name recognition and networking," said Jim Nishida-Adams, who was elected to his first term as SCBPA President later that evening.

"A chamber of commerce addresses challenges, celebrates highlights, and is the business community coming together to solve problems," said Kristy Ray, the Director of Chamber Relations for the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce.

Ray and Kirksville Chamber of Commerce Coordinator Alisa Kigar were the featured speakers in the discussion.

The main benefits of becoming a chamber of commerce would be a better coordination of efforts to promote both economic development and tourism. Kigar said that both go hand in hand.

"People from St. Louis come up here to go antiquing, do genealogy, and in Scotland County - come to the (Scotland County Race Track), camp at Lake Show Me and Ella Ewing Lake. What needs to be done is to capitalize on what is already successful. The Antique Fair is a perfect example. How many people do they draw into this area that use our hotels, buy our gas, and eat at our restaurants," Kigar elaborated.

Ray said that there were no set guidelines for what a chamber of commerce could do. A basic membership to the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce is $150 annually. She said that by joining the State Chamber, the SCBPA would be constantly updated on statewide initiatives and join the efforts to promote business in Missouri. The SCBPA would then be represented at state meetings and have access to the resources of the State Chamber, such as its staff, Political Action Committee, and lobbyists.

Dr. Harlo Donelson questioned Ray about how the State Chamber determined which candidates to support and how it determined its lobbying efforts. Ray said that each official is judged based on his or her voting record on key issues. The State Chamber decides whom to support based on that record.

One of the benefits that most interested SCBPA members was the opportunity for members to get a special rate on insurance from Missouri Federal Insurance. The rising cost of insurance has been a huge burden on many small businesses. To be eligible, the SCBPA would need to become an Enhanced Member of the Missouri State Chamber, which is $300 annually. After the SCBPA joins, any member is eligible to receive these benefits.

Nishida-Adams said that there would be no chamber office, but that several businesses would be designated as "Chamber of Commerce Satellite Sites", marked with a sign, where people could get information and ask questions. He said that the SCBPA was going to be producing a booklet with local merchant and area information that would be available at these satellite sites. Kigar said that a design class at Truman State is looking for things to work on for course credit and they would help design a professional brochure. Dr. Donelson volunteered the Economic Development Committee to begin work on creating the booklets.

The association then decided to vote at next month's meeting to decide whether or not to change its name to the Scotland County Chamber of Commerce and join the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce.

The SCBPA membership approved its slate of officers for 2003. The following slate of officers was approved: Nishida-Adams, President; Chuck Kigar, Vice President; Maxine Struble, Treasurer; Jeff Behrens, Secretary.

Nishida-Adams reported that there had been a good response to the membership renewal drive. There were several new members for this year: Viola Heiner (Watkins Products), W.C. Works, Kountry Konnection; State Farm Insurance; and City Hall. Memberships are $35 and can be mailed to: SCBPA, P.O. Box 201, Memphis, MO 63555.

The date for the annual Pancake Days was set for April 12.

The SCBPA will meet on March 11, at 6 p.m., at Java Jitters. This meeting will decide the name change and direction the SCBPA will take. Representatives from Skyhouse Communications, builders of the Scotland County website, will be the featured speakers.

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