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Chamber president discusses year-long plans
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The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce hopes to become a state wide leader in job creation, a retail hub for northeast Georgia, leverage its Hollywood of the South brand globally and become a leader in membership and business development, according to its president, Ralph Staffins.

Staffins laid out those five-year goals, and the plan of work for each of the chamber’s four departments in 2016 to business leaders gathered at the Center for a meeting with the Chamber Champions Wednesday.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, which has been led by Staffins since late January, is broken down into four departments: the chamber, tourism, economic development and Main Street program. All of those branches will be brought together online in a soon-to-be-revealed renovated chamber website, according to Staffins.

Throughout the next year, the chamber arm of the chamber of commerce is looking to increase membership by 20 percent, focus on small business development, become a certified chamber of commerce and continue to cultivate the chamber champions.

The tourism arm is looking to leverage the Hollywood of the South brand, create new programs, such as an upcoming ghost tour, update the visitor center, recruit a production studio and improve on economic drivers.

The economic development arm is looking to receive GRAD (Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development) certification for the mega site, promote Stanton Springs to technology manufacturers, recruit retail at a high level, work with schools to create the best workforce in Georgia and recruit filming and gaming companies to Newton.

The Main Street arm is looking to recruit new businesses to the downtown district, finalize the parking study, increase façade grant funding, pursue new events for the downtown district and promote downtown businesses regionally.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of commerce employs 11 people in its office, including tourism, economic development and Main Street, and has a budget of $1.35 million for all four entities.