GALLIA COUNTY — The Gallipolis Daily Tribune recently had the opportunity to talk with Gallia County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lorie Neal about her reflections on the successes of 2012 for the Chamber and the county.
What was new and exciting in Gallia County for 2012?
Neal: From the Chamber’s perspective, 2012 was a very good year. Our annual meeting was very productive with the best attendance in years; we had more than 12 members present. We also added 20 new members during the year. We’re very excited to say that we’ve grown and continue to add to our membership. We had lots of interesting things going on this year: the River Recreation Festival was a huge success. With the storm that hit our area on June 29th, we were very fortunate to regain power to the [Gallipolis] City Park area in order to continue with all the festivities involved in the July 4th celebration. Even with all the obstacles, it was still a success! The Chamber also held one of the best-attended French City Chili Fests ever. The weather was perfect for the event, and attendees were able to enjoy a large variety of chili recipes, among other activities. Members of the Chamber are becoming more involved, and I feel 2013 will be a great year for the Chamber and for our members to work together on some common goals … and several new businesses opened in Gallia County in 2012.
Can you tell us a bit about the new businesses?
Neal: One of the major franchise businesses new to our community is Buffalo Wild Wings, a Chamber member. Other new Chamber member businesses to open in Gallia County last year were: Winston’s Brew Thru & Deli, Nybble Café, Jividen’s Customs, Red Skye Wireless, which is a new AT&T wireless store downtown on Second and State, and a new insurance agent, Loralee Carmichael. But let’s not forget the businesses that renovated, expanded or purchased existing business. For example, Cliffside Golf Club was purchased by Jake and Heather Hall; Silver Screen VII, purchased by Robbie Pugh, was completely remodeled and opened in late 2011; Bodimers Grocery is now owned by Jimmy Carpenter; Ohio Valley Trackwork built not one but two new buildings in the Dan Evans Industrial Park in the past three years! Now that’s growth! This is only to mention a few local businesses that have made changes recently.
How do the new businesses affect the town and community?
Neal: Obviously, new business affects our town and community in a positive way. It gives us, the consumers, more to choose from in our shopping experience and keeps money here in Gallia County as opposed to sending it out over the Internet or going to the malls to shop. When existing businesses are purchased and upgraded or even kept open, we are in a winning situation because not only are we attracting new business, but we are keeping existing businesses open. It is truly up to all of us who live here to decide how much we want our community to grow. The more we support our local businesses the more our area will continue to grow.
It looks like people are making a huge effort to revitalize the downtown area, especially the Lafayette Mall area; what is going on with that?
Neal: The Digital River Project (DRP) has played a significant role in the revitalization of the 300 Block of Second Avenue and Court Street in Gallipolis. The Chamber is working with the DRP on helping the new businesses who move into that area, by offering them a significant discount on Chamber membership dues for the first three years at that location. The DRP’s investment in Gallipolis is a perfect example of how we all need to support each other and grow our area. This initiative, along with everyone’s support, could be one of the most positive boosts for us since the new schools were built just a few years ago. This was one of many events, projects and expansions in Gallia County during 2012 that have all contributed to a positive growing environment for all of us.