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Chamber is there for business

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: April Lovelace is the face of the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce. Lovelace said she is committed to helping local businesses grow and expand.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: April Lovelace is the face of the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce. Lovelace said she is committed to helping local businesses grow and expand.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

In today’s economic climate, opening a new business can be an enormous and oftentimes risky venture.

There are many questions business owners ask themselves concerning advertising and networking.

Fortunately for the business owners of Picayune, there’s the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.

April Lovelace has been director of the chamber since 2009 and said she enjoys helping business owners grow and expand their businesses.

Networking is the number one source of referrals, Lovelace said and the chamber offers more than 200 networking events yearly.

Member events include; a quarterly coffee with the mayor and a monthly morning call breakfast.

The morning call breakfast is sponsored by the United Way of South Mississippi and is held at a different member’s business every month, Lovelace said.

Members also have access to their own member portals on the chamber’s website, where they can add hot deals, featured products, jobs, events and access social media outlets, Lovelace said.

The chamber also offers members the opportunity to save up to 90 percent on office supplies through the business solutions division, Lovelace said. Members also enjoy business of the month, space in the chamber office to display brochures or business cards, advocacy at city council and county supervisor meetings and much more.

There are public events as well including the Just for Fun luncheon, Small Business Administration day, ribbon cuttings, grand openings and the upcoming Run with Pigs 5K.

The closest Small Business Administration office is in Gulfport, Lovelace said. But, each month a representative comes to Picayune to provide one-on-one help with business finance for future or current business owners.

The chamber offers visitor’s information to the public, new resident packets, rental of chamber’s conference room, buyers guide, job postings and certificates of origin, Lovelace said.

The chamber, which is a 501(c)6 non-profit, currently has about 300 members, Lovelace said. Membership dues are based on the number of employees.

The base yearly due of $140 is based on 1 to 14 employees and the maximum is $1,120 for a company with 90 or more employees, Lovelace said.

“The chamber is dedicated to furnishing its members access to opportunities in order to establish lucrative relationships and marketing partnerships,” Lovelace said.

Mike Roche, owner of Mike’s Heating and A/C Service, LLC, has been a member of the chamber for the past 4 years.

Roche has been in business for about 8 years and joined the chamber because he was searching for a way to network and increase sales and revenue.

It’s a great way to network, Roche said, being a chamber member carries a certain weight with prospective clients.

“The chamber is the voice of the business community,” Lovelace said. “If you’re not a member, then your voice is not being heard.”

The chamber is currently taking nominations for citizen, volunteer and civic club of the year, as well as the excellence in business award, Lovelace said. Anyone in the community can call and nominate their favorite candidate.

These awards will be presented at the chamber’s annual awards banquet on Nov. 6.

For more information about the chamber contact Lovelace at 601-798-3122 and visit the website at www.picayunechamber.org.

Follow the Chamber on Facebook, Twitter, Flicker and YouTube at Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.