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Small Business

Chamber moves ahead on business incubator

The Alexander City Chamber discussed negotiations that will allow it to move into and establish a small-business incubator in the now-vacant USAmeriBank operations building just off U.S. Highway 280 at its monthly meeting Tuesday in First Baptist Church’s Fireside Room.

“We’re working with our attorney to fabricate a lease that will be acceptable to the Chamber,” said Mark Spencer, senior vice president and central Alabama area executive for USAmeriBank and chair of the Chamber’s finance committee. “We’re waiting on the Chamber to see which direction they want to go.”

Ann Rye, president of the Chamber, said it was looking for a “hybrid” incubator which could provide a combination of long-term rental space, collaborative space and space for those businesses currently operating “around their kitchen table” and need additional space.

“I think one thing we need to look at are service industries that are needed in this area,” Rye said. “Things like an architect or an engineer. We also need to look at small manufacturing operations.”

Spencer said he saw the incubator as a catalyst for economic growth.

“I think this will allow us to attract businesses from outside our geographic area,” Spencer said. “That should eventually spur local economic growth. We have an idea location with frontage on 280. That will be very enticing to businesses.”

Spencer also said that USAmeriBank would turn the building over to the Chamber after 15 years for a nominal fee of around $1, which would give the Chamber a real estate asset.

Jacob Meacham, vice president of business development for the Chamber, said he and Randy Dawkins of River Bank & Trusts had been working with Google on an opportunity for local businesses called “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map.” The Google search web interface is designed to give customers better locations to area businesses. He said Google will provide a workshop for small businesses in early 2016.

The Chamber also swore in nine new board members on Tuesday. They are:

• Reginald Clifton, principal of Alexander City Middle School;

• Stephanie Daughtry of Daughtry Insurance Agency;

• Randy Dawkins, senior vice president of River Bank & Trust;

• Ralph Holley of Holley’s Home Furnishings;

• Sherri Richardson, owner of The Medicine Shoppe;

• Luke Robinson, sales and marketing manager for Robinson Iron;

• Steve Robinson, (AmTech) Tallapoosa County commissioner and Alexander City School Board member;

• Jeff Smith, general manager at Tallapoosa Ford; and

• Barbara Anne Spears, dean of instruction at Central Alabama Community College.

December 9, 2015

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