Chamber presents strategic plan _lowres

Photo provided by Kerry Everitt -- Seven new members were voted to the St. Francisville Chamber of Commerce board Feb. 24 in St. Francisville. The board, from left, includes Howard Arceneaux, Linda Coates, Linda Jenkins, Jessica Roussel, Stacie Nwabueze and Zed Howell. Not shown: Eric Olson

The St. Francisville Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual meeting Feb. 24 at The Carriage House, with Director Kerry Everitt introducing a new strategic plan for 2015.

The membership also voted for seven new board members during the meeting.

Everitt said the new strategic plan was developed through planning sessions with board members and community meetings.

She identified five key roles for the chamber: connecting businesses with the community, providing a voice on behalf of the business community and promoting local businesses, advocating for business issues in legislative and regulatory arenas, working with businesses to identify and facilitate learning opportunities, and identify community issues that impact businesses.

“Our role is to serve as a connector, a one-stop shop for business and business issues,” Everitt said. “We’ll have a policy in place that guides advocacy.”

Everitt said the chamber will continue to evolve and work with businesses to determine their needs.

Everitt identified five strategic goals for the chamber in 2015:

To save and grow jobs in West Feliciana Parish

To build awareness of West Feliciana businesses

To address legislative and regulatory issues impacting local businesses

To build a local work force ready to meet the needs of businesses

To help strengthen community readiness for growth

“We are pro growth,” Everitt said.

Shannon McCormick, director of business retention and expansion with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, was the keynote speaker and emphasized the significance of the nine parishes BRAC represents to work in partnership with each other.

West Feliciana Parish President Kevin Couhig, who also chairs the Economic Development Council, discussed the importance of bringing new customers to the parish and identifying new markets for the parish. He talked about Viking Cruise Lines’ announcement that it will stop in St. Francisville starting in 2017.

Afterward, the membership voted seven new members to the board: Howard Arceneaux, a freelance journalist; Linda Coats, administrative assistant with Magnolia Full Gospel Baptist Church; Zed Howell, owner and founder of Howell Foundry; Linda Jenkins, owner of Femme Fatale and La Vie boutiques; Stacie Nwabueze, administrator with Nwabueze Clinic; Eric Olson, site vice president with River Bend Nuclear Station; and Jessica Roussel, purchasing manager with KPAQ Industries.