Poarch commits as first partner

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
Out with the old and in with the new was a trend at Thursday night's annual Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce banquet.
Last year's Chamber president P.D. Pollard of United Bank stepped down from his role and First National Bank &Trust's Dale Hurst stepped up to fill his shoes. In addition, the Chamber introduced its first-ever corporate partnership, which replaces last year's four corporate sponsors.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians committed $10,000 to the Chamber for this year. In return, the Chamber will give the Tribe top billing at all Chamber-sponsored events as well as acknowledgment on all media material, Chamber director Emilie Mims said.
"This is the first year we started it," Mims said. "Last year, we had four corporate sponsors at $2,500 each, but because the Chamber continues to have a deficit, even though we have made extreme cuts, we still have a gap to fill. So the board of directors decided that rather than going back to companies again this year and possibly next year that if we could get a single commitment then we wouldn't have to keep asking."
The new concept seems to have worked.
"There are already three potential partners who have come forward to possibly partner in the future," Mims said. "The Poarch Creek Indians and these other companies understand very clearly the Chamber's role in marketing our community. The events that the Chamber offers as well as the printed media that we produce are important to the quality of life in our community."
Hurst, who made the announcement of the new partnership program during the banquet, believes it will offer more to businesses and organizations than corporate sponsorships have in the past.
"We at the Chamber are very excited about the potential benefit from the corporate partnership program," he said. "Instead of asking for additional contributions from a select few members and those members not really getting anything in return, this program will give a tremendous amount of public exposure to the participants. Everything that goes out from the Chamber will list the name of the corporate partner and their name will be included on all Chamber events. The Poarch Creek Indians being our first partner underscores their continued support to the Atmore area. Their future plans to bring more jobs to our community are very encouraging. We hope other businesses in the community will see the benefit of being a Chamber partner in the coming years."
Tribal Chairman Fred L. McGhee simply believes the sponsorship was the neighborly thing to do.
"We just thought it would be a good idea since we're so close and work well together," he said. "We need to be good neighbors and help each other out. This is the first year the Chamber has done this and who would be better than the Poarch Creek Indians to be the first sponsor?"
As for Mims, she couldn't be more thrilled about Poarch's commitment, but stated it was no surprise.
"I think it's great," she said. "We are so excited about Poarch because they have marketing resources that we quite possibly will be able to tap in to for our events as well as helping them for theirs. The Poarch Creek Indians have always been strong supporters of the Chamber. I've been in this job for 15 years and I've never asked for something that they didn't support. It came as no surprise that they were willing to do this."
Some of the many Chamber sponsored events include Mayfest, Williams Station Day, Business Before Hours, Business After Hours, the annual Chamber banquet and ribbon cuttings.

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