CARROLLTON, Ky. (August 2004) The Carroll County Chamber of
Commerce is having growing pains, and one of the biggest challenges
it faces is overcoming its location atop the Carroll County Courthouse.
by Melissa Pelsor
new Carroll County Chamber Office.
The chamber has been sharing an office and splitting the cost of
a full-time secretary with the Carroll County Community Development
Corp while enjoying free rent from Fiscal Court on the third floor
of the courthouse. But it has been hard for people to find the office
or even know that it exists, according to secretary Rhonda Crutcher.
And with several ambitious goals in the works to grow the chamber
and meet the expanding needs of its 105 members, the chambers
board of directors recently decided to move into a vacant storefront
at 511 Highland Ave., which is near the county tourism office and
visible to the citys main thoroughfare. The office will have
a restroom and lunch area. The basement could possibly be renovated
later into a conference room, Crutcher said.
The main complaint we get is that no one knows where we are,
and there are no signs outside to tell them were up here (in
the courthouse), said Crutcher, who has been the secretary for
18 months. The new office is the perfect place because its
visible and next to the tourism office, which we work with all the
Since April, the chamber has been paying the entire cost of $330 a
month in rent plus utilities for the new office while renovations
are being done. When finished, the CCCDC will move into the office
with the chamber, since it shares the secretary and office supply
expenses. The CCCDC board questioned the move, since its economic
development office did not need visibility and because it did not
want to pay rent when it already had free rent.
Even though they may not have needed the visibility like the
chamber wanted, I still think the move and visibility will help CCCDC,
said Crutcher, a Carrollton native who has worked for both the chamber
and CCCDC for the past year.
She and her husband, Lonnie, have been volunteering their time to
renovate the storefront, which previously housed Studio One Nail Salon.
Some materials have been donated by Craigs Do It Center and
an anonymous donor. Building owner and CCCDC board member Dennis Raisor
has supplied paint and supplies.
Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold Shorty Tomlinson,
a past chamber president and current CCCDC board member, said he was
not in favor of the move initially because of the free rent for the
CCCDC. He agreed to the move once it was determined that CCCDC would
not have to pay any rent. He also agreed that the visibility on Highland
Avenue could only help the chamber grow.
Its a relatively small chamber, but they have big plans
to grow, so it can only help to be down on street level, he
said. I was just pointing out that its going to cost them.
The CCCDC is without a director with the recent departure of Joey
Graves, who in June left to take a similar position in Union, Missouri.
Interviews are being held to replace him, said Tomlinson, who will
help make the hiring decision of the next CCCDC director along with
board president Ruth Baxter.
To help pay for the new rent bill without raising membership dues,
the chamber board started a new golf scramble this summer. The inaugural
First National Bank/Carroll County Chamber Classic was held June 9
at Gen. Butler State Report Park, netting $5,000 in profit, primarily
from sponsorships, according to Crutcher. The event included a $1
million hole-in-one challenge, sponsored by North American Stainless
and Kinman Chevrolet. Carrollton Federal Bank sponsored the luncheon.
The chambers Annual Dinner, scheduled for Aug. 10 and featuring
speaker Tori Murden McClure, generates money through a silent auction
of donated items. The money is used solely for scholarships. Last
year, the silent auction raised enough money to award six $500 scholarships
to Carroll County high school students. McClure, of Louisville, was
the first American and first woman of any nationality to row solo
across the Atlantic Ocean.
As a sign of growth, the chamber recently launched plans to start
a Gift Certificate Program, whereby the public can buy gift certificates
from the chamber to be used at participating merchants. The program
is scheduled to begin this fall, once the move to the new office is