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Meeting to address Main Street transition
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Main Street Covington’s transition to the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce is complete, but some downtown business owners still have questions about how the program will work moving forward.

The chamber will host an information meeting for downtown business owners and interested citizens from 5:30-7 p.m., March 6, at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning to discuss the program’s move and answer questions.

Andrea Smith, owner of Square Perk Café and a Main Street board member, said at the board’s last meeting she felt a public meeting was needed to introduce business owners to the new culture and team at the chamber and to share the plan for the program moving forward.

Main Street Covington is responsible for promoting and developing downtown Covington, but the program has a heavy dependence on volunteers, as the program only has one full-time employee. Chamber officials and Main Street board members hope the meeting will play a part in revitalizing the Downtown Business Council, which can be an important outlet for business owners to discuss issues affecting the square and downtown area.

Smith said some business owners and other stakeholders were feeling left in the dark because the business council hadn’t met for months during the transition that moved Main Street Covington from under the city to the chamber.

Smith also said businesses generally need the most help after the holidays, when the Christmas rush has worn off and business is slow.

Interim Main Street director Serra Phillips recently was hired by the chamber to fill its retail recruitment position, so consultant Sharlene Cannon, a longtime Main Street director in Thomasville, is filling in until a permanent director is hired.

Chamber President Hunter Hall said Thursday he hoped the chamber would be ready to announce a hire by March 6 or at least be able to give a firm update.

In related news, the Main Street board is down to nine members, following resignations by Phillips, who accepted her new position, and attorney Greg Pope, who said he no longer had time.

Board members and Cannon thanked Phillips for her hard work, including filling in as interim director for the past several months and keeping the program running following the resignation of former longtime director Josephine Kelly.

The board doesn’t have a set number of members, but has generally operated with 12, though Cannon said Hall generally recommended five to eight members. Board member Susan Thompson recommended waiting to make a final decision on the number of members until the new director was hired.