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Chamber asks for $250K from county
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The local chamber of commerce requested Monday that the Newton County Board of Commissioners more than double the chamber's economic development budget next year to $250,000.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce received $120,000 for economic development from the county this year but asked for more money to continue efforts to bring industry and companies like Baxter to the area.

"I know full well that for us to come in tonight and discuss an a hard pill to swallow," chamber president Hunter Hall said.

However, Hall urged that the increase is necessary especially given the success from this past year. From 2008 to the present, the number of industrial projects looking at Newton has almost tripled, Hall said.

"We are grateful that we had a very successful year," Hall said. "We are confident that what we are doing is working."

Hall said more funding would allow the chamber to stay on the offensive and stay ahead of the competition.

One thing the chamber would do with more money is hire a new administrative assistant.

Hall explained that a lot of time is spent speaking on-site with industry personnel like project and plant managers. This often leaves the office empty with no one to field phone calls or give information.

Other funds will go towards initiatives and projects to attract more business and industry to Newton County.

"We want to attract the right industry and keep the weeds out," Hall said, pointing to Baxter as a prime example.

"Baxter is that great example...of that offense. Baxter was a very specific rifled shot in an industry that we wanted," he said. "Baxter was an effort of going after a very specific industry with a very specific skill set."

Hall also stressed that by investing in and attracting industry, more revenue could be generated through taxes which could grow the budget.

"We see ourselves with the unique ability, [as] the extension of this body, to go out and find that revenue," Hall said. "If we don't get on the lead, somebody else will."