Joint chamber considering board members

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

VIDALIA — The creation of a parish-wide chamber is moving forward. Thursday marked the last day for chamber board nominations.

Approximately 22 people from towns all over the parish are up for 15 spots on the board.

Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Burley said the current nominations for the board will be reduced by the steering committee and then the general memberships of the chambers will make the final decision.

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“We are going to be looking at the experience they have in serving the community,” she said. “We originally had a set number of people we were going to take from each city, but that fell through.”

Burley said the original plan fell through because the chambers were not seeing enough nominations from the smaller towns in the parish.

Burley said the board members should be in place by December.

Concordia Parish Industrial and Economic District Director Heather Malone said the merger of the chambers is something the parish has been working on since January.

“We have been meeting to coordinate the efforts of the chambers for the merger,” she said. “I think this merger will unify the parish.”

Malone said since Concordia Parish is small and has limited resources, the merger can only help the parish.

“We are too small of an area to have it split into all of these separate organizations,” she said. “(The merger) will allow us to put ourselves in position for more overall support in the parish.”

Unity is another thing the merger brings to the table, Malone said.

“It will show the outside world we are one voice and one community,” she said. “As it stands, we have both a Vidalia and Ferriday chamber, and with the merger, businesses on the outside of both cities will find it more welcoming if we are unified. It gives us a louder voice.”

Malone said news of the merger has been received generally well by residents of the parish.

“We are not going to be able to please everyone,” she said. “We have to go with what the majority of the membership wants, and so far, to my knowledge, we have only received one letter expressing opposition.”

Malone said at the beginning of the merger talks, the chambers passed out a survey to see what the business thought about the merger.

“We didn’t receive all that many responses back,” she said. “The ones we did receive gave us unanimous approval.”

Jan. 1 is the date in which Malone said the chambers are looking forward to completing the merger.

“I am not saying this process isn’t going to be hard, but it will be worth it,” she said. “We have to remember we are not in competition with each other, we are in competition with the rest of the state and country.”