Should The Chamber Marry SEDA? Food for Thought.

By  | March 19, 2012 | Filed under: News

Jackie Hendrix

FLORENCE – The Shoals Chamber of Commerce has a new head of state, and he’s already thinking about changing things up. Newly appointed Chairman Jackie Hendrix has a plan. He wants to thoroughly investigate whether a merger of his organization with The Shoals Economic Development Authority, SEDA, will be good for the community.

“I would like to form a committee to find out how The Chamber and SEDA can do things better,” Hendrix told The Quad-Cities Daily. He said the model for attracting business to communities is changing all across the country. The standard has been to have separate Chambers of Commerce and development authorities. “But today,” he said, “they are consolidating under a single umbrella. We have to find out what is best… Take every option available to us and find the one that works.”

Hendrix said that the process should begin now because a changeover would take 5 to 7 years. “We don’t have the time to wait because attracting business is very competitive. A combined Chamber and Development synergy is very powerful, and we need to have something like that in place,” he explained. Hendrix said that the committee would be made up of mostly elected officials, himself, and with SEDA Chairman, Frank Patterson. Any change to SEDA would require legislative authority, so the process could be extremely detailed in its execution.

“The Shoals has a lot of momentum right now, with it’s improving jobs picture, ” Hendrix noted. The Navistar takeover of the RSA-funded rail car factory in Barton, and the recently opened Element-13 recycling facility at Wise Metals, are proving to be heralds of a bright future for The Shoals. He wants to begin talks with SEDA as soon a possible. The committee is expected to be formed within the next 30 days.

“I expect to take a lot of heat for this. There are some out there that do not want to change the status-quo, and they will make some noise. I expect it and I realize that this is a risky suggestion,” said Hendrix, owner of Party Pros USA, “As an entrepreneur I face risk every day.”

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