ALPENA -Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the partnership between the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and Target Alpena. The two entities agreed to merge in order to more effectively pursue economic development opportunities and to work with potential entrepreneurs interested in the doing business in the area. Thus far the venture appears to be working.
Chamber Executive Director Jackie Krawczak said goals were in place before the partnership became official and many of them were met in the first year. One plan was to offer tiered memberships for chamber members that would allow them to choose at what level to invest. Krawczak said the goals set for the commitments were met and anticipates the same for this year.
She said overall the Target/chamber relationship worked well in 2012 and thinks it will grow even stronger in 2013. She said she also believes more economic development opportunities will take shape because both parties are now more farmiliar with one another.
"We had a good structure in place, but we knew we were going to have to make some adjustments," Krawczak said."When things would come up we would figure out whose responsibility it was and how we could best support each other. Now that we have had a full year under our belt it is pretty obvious what works well and what doesn't."
Target Director Jim Klarich said one thing that has hindered Target was the amount of administration work involved with helping others to get their business off the ground in Alpena. He said before the merger his office would need at least two days a week just to handle the amount of paperwork involved with the process. He said now the chamber staff handles those tasks and it allows him to focus on clients and helping them.
"We were buried in administration work, which probably cost my predecessor several days of his week just for paperwork, keeping track of the books and loan programs," Klarich said. "With the merger the existing staff takes over the responsibility for that, which really allows me to focus just on economic development and less on paperwork. I can spend more time on business recruitment, property showings and giving tour to potential companies interested in Alpena."
Krawczak said Target is now a part of the chamber and many people don't realize how the two are intertwined. She said this year there will be more marketing of both, in which the logos of both entities will be featured on things like business cards, flyers and advertisements.
"The goal for 2013 is to bring the two organizations closer together. We want to get rid of Target as it appears as a stand-alone organization," Krawczak said. "We want people to think of it as economic development as an arm of the chamber, not Target Alpena. We really are one organization now and we are going to market ourselves that way."
Klarich said one of his main objectives for 2013 is to have an all-inclusive package of information and data available for businesses and companies that inquire and have questions about Alpena. He said when certain things are asked for now, sometimes it takes time to track down the information and forward it. He said he would like to have something completed by the end of the year that would allow him to give companies a complete overview on everything Alpena.
"We need to have a one-stop shop so to speak that encompasses all of the data," Klarich said. "There will be three parts to it.One part would be industrial, another for community and the final is for tourism. It is being worked on. When it is done we want it to tell the company everything it wants to hear."
Klarich said there is a lot of movement behind the scenes in terms of possible economic development in Alpena, but the details are sensitive in nature at this time, but that the chamber and himself are continuing to work as hard as they can to help grow Alpena.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.