11-27 Olive Hill Chamber.JPG

Olive Hill City Councilman Chris Bledsoe (right) receives a commendation from Chamber President Lisa Messer-Conley (left) recognizing him as the Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce's volunteer of the month.

 

The Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to promote the town's small businesses, a task that should be made easier by the group's recently recognized status as a non-profit organization.

Unlike traditional 501c3 non-profits, the chamber does help promote for-profit businesses. However, it does so without claiming any profits for the organization itself. This qualifies the chamber to apply for tax exempt status as a 501c6.

It's been something that the chamber has been pursuing for a while, and chamber president Lisa Messer-Conley praised the work of Galaxy Project director Chelsa Hamilton for making the dream a reality.

“She's the one who spent hours on the phone,” Messer-Conley said of Hamilton's efforts to navigate the bureaucracy surrounding the status on behalf of the chamber.

The 501c6 means that the chamber will not have to pay income tax on money earned through events like the recent Fall Y'all festival, and can instead reinvest all that money into promoting the community and its businesses.

The next activity the chamber will be participating in to support those businesses will be on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, or Small Business Saturday. Messer-Conley said the Biz Wiz will be distributing fliers that day offering special incentives for shopping at various locally owned shops. Each business will offer its own incentive for those who visit their store.

The chamber also received an update on the business location signs from chamber member J.D. Raybourn. Raybourn said they have received the signs and are exploring locations for displaying them where they will direct the most traffic to the community.

Messer-Conley also gave an update on the Clean The Town project.

“Wow is all I can say,” she said of the efforts of the two dozen volunteers who showed up to participate in the first Clean The Town event.

The chamber has sponsored two such events now, she said, where participants spent up to eight hours picking up garbage, scraping sidewalks and streets with shovels to remove accumulated dirt and detritus, and used weed eaters to clean up vacant lots and sidewalks. She said the group hopes to complete all clean-up efforts before the Christmas holiday.

In other action Messer-Conley discussed plans to create a tourism commission for the city. She said she hopes to get the issue on the agenda for the next meeting of the Olive Hill City Council.

Council would have to approve the establishment of such a commission, but the commission would then operate as a mostly autonomous entity in promoting travel to the city.

Members of the Olive Hill Chamber have been discussing the establishment of such a commission with the director of tourism for the city of Morehead.

Among the actions that a tourism commission could take would be to suggest the city establish a modest restaurant tax to support actions that would draw more travel to the city for the benefit of restaurant owners who would have an expanded customer base.

The three percent restaurant tax established by the tourism commission in Grayson has brought in thousands of dollars that have been used for projects like the sports park complex, which is expected to generate more business for the restaurants, hotels and other businesses in that city.

Before adjourning the meeting Messer-Conley recognized Sally's Flowers on its recent business anniversary. The Olive Hill florist has been in business for 65 years. She also presented certificates to city councilman Chirs Bledsoe, who was recognized as volunteer of the month, and honored Tyler's Pizza as the member of the month. She noted the restaurant is “always there to help” with various community needs, including benefits for families in need.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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