The Mountain Lakes Chamber, is much like other Chambers.
We were formed long ago (September 1958) by a group of local business owners concerned for the future of the Community’s economy. The group soon formalized an official organization to lead an economic development charge, long before the days of the currently established Economic Development Authority which was founded in 1984.
No matter how far back in history you go, business has always been the key economic driver of growth in any community and this wise group of entrepreneurs understood that well!
Once a primarily agriculture economy, Jackson County has made a commendable tech-driven transition and is now home to a more diversified economy – contributing to the evolving way of life the region is now experiencing.
So, where does the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce fit in?
We’ve been there from the very beginning! Leading the charge for business preservation & growth. With a continued mission to be the voice of progress in our hometown business community, we plan to be available to local businesses for years to come!
The goal to build a better community, over the past 60+ years, has transformed into a partnership of epic proportions that has materialized into the economic progress we benefit from, today!
Since becoming established as the leading organization in the business community, The Chamber’s Public Policy & Advocacy program has been just as effective in securing federal funding as any city across the Country. A large part due to the reputable relationships that have been built, respected & maintained. We are proud to represent local citizens in securing tax dollars and bringing them back into the community to be put towards projects of growth.
Congressional advocacy is a direct result of the Chamber’s assistance in securing roughly $5M for the Scottsboro Airport over the past decade. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible without our partnership with so many community entities, to include The City and EDA. The economic significance of fortifying airport upgrades is to develop an infrastructure capable of handling corporate jets. When corporate leaders are able to quickly access industry branches, it creates an environment that better allows for existing industries to grow.
Since Dr. Bradford started The Impact Learning Center, The Chamber has invested over $1M in workforce development & education across Jackson County. Before IMPACT started, 42% of adults in Jackson County did not have a diploma or GED. Today, the completion rate has dropped to 27%, which is well below the state average! For this and many other reasons, we believe strongly in the programs that IMPACT provides the community and will continue to support their efforts any way we can!
In 2001, then Chamber Chairman Jim Grigs, shared our vision to secure funding for a road that would allow for better access to the States only National Monument at the time. Using a camcorder, sitting on the top of a pickup truck, he and Rick Roden recorded a video that later proved the need for Federal Assistance. Once secured, a well paved road was constructed, leading visitors from across the world to the entrance of Russell Cave National Monument.
“Economy is the art of making the most of life!”
Today, we still support all efforts to build a better community! We are still concerned for what the future economy will look and how we can better work with our partners to affect positive growth.
But in 2017, everything changed!
When Governor Kay Ivey made the public announcement that Google was coming to Bridgeport, people from all over the world “Googled” Jackson County Alabama. As the 14TH Google Data Center in the United States we thought it was the perfect time to re-brand ourselves and adapt our services to better compliment the economic transition that Google brings to our region.
About 15 years ago, we switched gears and became a program of work chamber. That simply means that we are heavily funded by Community Investors, rather than funded strictly by members & event hosting. This shift came due to a series of interviews with over 80 area business, industry, community, government and education leaders. The results revealed the need to develop initiatives that span five-year increments to tackle our areas most pressing needs.
Traditionally we’ve hosted networking events, ribbon cuttings, congressional meetings in D.C. & Montgomery that have played vital roles throughout the years. Although we will continue to do many of the tried & true business development events, we understand the need to innovate as our local businesses needs change. With a visible shift in what our local business community needs, our focus continues to shift with it.
Currently operating under the Gateway Initiative, from 2017-2021 we’re tasked with accomplishing 6 community needs.
51% of our investment dollars pay for The Chamber to serve as the primary liaison between the business and education communities. Taking the lead to ensure that all levels of education curriculum meets the existing and future workforce demands of local business & industry.
21% of our investment dollars pay for The Chamber to serve to expand the County’s tax base through the aggressive retention and growth of existing retail and commercial businesses while targeting recruitment of new retail and commercial growth.
18% of our investment dollars pay for The Chamber to effectively serve as the leading advocate and “Voice of Business” in Jackson County at all levels of government. The goal being, to proactively support policies that encourage growth and promote and environment which business can thrive & prosper.
Destination Marketing & Tourism
Funded by 1.75% of collected lodging tax, The Chamber serves as Jackson County’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Responsible for marketing the unique attributes of Jackson County to a targeted spectrum of audiences, ranging from the individual leisure and businesses traveler to folks looking to relocate, on a national & global scale.
10% of our investment dollars pay for The Chamber to provide a platform in which to attract, retain, cultivate, engage and promote young leadership through the Jackson County Region. Now called, The Mountain Movers, a small group of 30-40 year old business leaders are formalizing the group, from scratch.
Funded equally by all elements our investors provide, this initiative focuses on ensuring The Chamber’s message is well communicated & received while emphasizing the assets of Jackson County. Marketing our area as a prime location for business and a career destination for a skilled workforce.
“Living in Jackson County provides the best of two worlds: a small town with friendly, welcoming people nestled in an idyllic setting with Mother Nature on full display, and the attractions, services, and benefits of larger cities just a short drive away. We love the lifestyle provided in our community and make occasional one or two day excursions to Huntsville, Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta.”
In March of 2020, everything changed again due to a worldwide pandemic.
Although we remain focused on our core services, they’ve taken on an adaptation that better reflects the more pressing needs that our local businesses are experiencing in light of COVID-19.
Now, we’re offering an array of COVID support services that address needs that businesses have never before experienced
- Partnered with Google & several local donors in creating a Small Business Relief Fund that allowed us to raise $56,850 to be distributed among 58 applicants
- Built online landing page, updated daily, to help businesses through the SBA loan process & helped make them aware of available state support in a timely manner
- Staff called all Jackson County Restaurant, Groceries & Pharmacies to see who will be open, what their hours are and how they will operate during pandemic. Updated the status of 72+ eateries on a restaurant grid that the community could easily access and reference.
- Staff called every single one of our 600+ members to offer personal assistance & check on their needs
- Conducted April, May & June board meetings over teleconference to provide real time updates
- Organized and conducted a county-wide conference call between state and local leaders to provide local municipalities with access to state funding opportunities and operational guidelines
- Assisted several companies in the SBA loan and PPP application process
- Designed & distributed “local hero” signs for clinics, schools, and first responders showing our support for their sacrifice
Moving forward towards recovery, in light of COVID-19.
- Distributed checks to the 58 local businesses who were awarded grants under the Jackson County Small Business Relief Fund
- Hosted the Southeast’s largest fishing tournament, Big Bass Splash, June 12-14 which provided a much needed tourism boost to the local economy
- Developing a three month Travel Marketing Campaign to begin the road to recovery from an anticipated loss of up to 50% in lodging revenue and tourism expenditures
- Coordinated a county-wide COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. Made up of 30+ local leaders who communicate weekly
- Created a COVID-19 Recover Task Force made up of 20 local leaders to help business and industry navigate re-opening the economy and better manage effects of the pandemic.
- Serving as a regional, tri-state, sixteen county broad band initiative to address broadband voids in our region.
By this point, it’s probably clear to you that we are focused on growth in all we do! Not our own growth, but yours!
If you are a community member who’s just learning about us or how our services work into your own growth process, there are 5 frequently asked questions that typically come up. We would like to go ahead and address those for you, now!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
The Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. is a 501(c)6 non-profit corporation founded locally in 1958 as the Merchants Association of Scottsboro. Today the organization works to strengthen the local economy, advocate for its members and the community, advance community excellence, and deliver value to its members all throughout Jackson County Alabama.
WHY IS THE CHAMBER INVOLVED IN SO MANY ISSUES?
One of the four major goals of the Chamber of Commerce is to be the voice of progress in our hometown business community. Advocating for our members has proven critical to not only our members, but to the overall health of the community over the years. There are many examples of how the Chamber’s involvement facilitated progress in the community, including road projects, new attractions, job creation, destination tourism grants, and quality of life amenities we enjoy today.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHAMBER TO CITY GOVERNMENT?
The Chamber of Commerce provides professional services via contract to several Municipalities in Jackson County for tourism marketing as well as for the recruitment of new jobs and economic growth. The Chamber is an independent 501(c)(6) not for profit organization and is not a department of city or state government.
HOW IS THE CHAMBER FUNDED?
The Chamber of Commerce funds their operations via multiple sources, including dues from members, professional services contracts with multiple entities, special events, sponsorships, services and corporate investors.
WHERE IS THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LOCATED?
The Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce is conveniently located in the heart of Jackson County in downtown Scottsboro. Find us right next door to Goodwill on Willow Street: The address is 407 E. Willow Street, Scottsboro Alabama 35768
To promote harmony and stimulate county-wide economic growth. With a goal to improve the quality of life, enhance communications between workforce & education, we strive for a positive partnership with all Jackson Co. citizens.
WE OFTEN SAY...
We see a bright future for Jackson County Alabama & strive to be the consistent voice of progress in our hometown business community. #JacksonUp
We’re leaders and master facilitators who bring together the resources of Jackson County agencies and organizations to promote interaction, credibility, and clear communication to provide quality growth in our community.