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In case you missed it, our community is thriving

By Teresa Beale

The Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce is the community’s biggest cheerleader. Our mission of “Strengthening Business, Enhancing Community” is carried out daily in a wide variety of ways.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies are visible signs of growth. Since January the Chamber has hosted several. We cheered the grand opening of Franklin Hometown Pharmacy & The Daily Dose. Mackan’s celebrated their 45th anniversary & building renovation with a Chamber Business After Hours. Kathara Spa also hosted a Business After Hours to highlight their expansion from Courtland to a larger space in downtown Franklin. All three have made a tremendous investment. Most gratifying, at each event, huge crowds of Chamber and community members showed up in support. In a few weeks we will be co-hosting, along with FSEDI, a ribbon cutting for KCA Logistics. They are a recent graduate of the Franklin Business Center’s Incubator program and have located on Sach’s Ave.

The Chamber hosted many events in the first six months of 2019. Along with the ribbon cuttings and Business After Hours networking events listed above, we held our 65th Annual Meeting. Edwards Hardware was honored as the 2018 Business of the Year. This fourth-generation business is 108 years old!

All four of our state legislators provided a review of the General Assembly at the Post-Legislative Eggs & Issues Breakfast. A large crowd of high school students along with the business community posed questions to the panel.

The 27th annual Chamber Golf tournament was held in May at the Cypress Cove Country Club with a capacity crowd participating. Members promoted their company to attendees and many businesses invited clients to play and enjoy the day. This annual event provides a relaxed networking opportunity.

“A New Season For You” was the theme for the Administrative Professionals Day celebration. Guests enjoyed the program: Unwind – Yoga by Jane; Relax – Kathara Spa & Enjoy – Chef Jay of Southampton Memorial Hospital. Ten members set up vendor displays and interacted with the 115 guests to showcase their business. This provided employers an opportunity to treat their staff to a fun event.

Daily the Chamber answers multiple requests for information. Recent of town callers requested visitor or relocation information, list of realtors, maps, where to purchase certain products, senior living information or where to park an RV. Some are planning a wedding or church event and need guidance. That means these people want to visit and enjoy our amenities and history or are looking to relocate their family to our community.

Locals are helped with their inquiries about renting local facilities, how to find support groups or where to donate to a charity. What contractors, painters, etc. are available and how to find medical transportation for patients, even where would be a good place for prom photos. Of course, in answering all inquiries, we constantly refer our members.

A few recent community highlights:

• 2017 Chamber Business of the Year Repair Tech recently announced they will purchase 15 acres to build a new headquarters facility at Pretlow Industrial Park.

• The creation of the PDCCC Regional Warehouse & Distribution Training Center is complete. This facility shares a portion of the Tidewater News building. This program fills a need for local employers and students seeking skilled jobs.

• In support of local agriculture, PDCCC hosted a well attended 7-week series – The Business of Farming. Area partners served as instructors to inform area farmers on a number of topics.

• The Busy Bee expanded and moved to a larger storefront on Main St. in Downtown Franklin.

• Belmont Peanuts is building a new facility on Southampton Parkway that will increase production as well as include a warehouse and retail space.

• Contemporary new apartments have been created in downtown Franklin. These new spaces are located upstairs over Main Event.

• All of Franklin & Southampton public schools are accredited and Southampton Academy & Rock Church School offer additional educational opportunities.

• TaylorMade Fitness relocated to a larger facility.

• Enviva announced it will expand its local operations which is anticipated to bring in 75.7 million dollars over the next several years. During the expansion the physical growth of the plant is expected to generate 300 construction jobs.

• Hampton Farms locally invested $5.735 million to install a bulk peanut butter production line. This recent expansion will create 14 new jobs and increase its purchase of Virginia grown peanuts by an additional $6 million or 12 million pounds over the next three years.

• PDCCC’s enrollment is up and they are adding men & women’s soccer to their athletic program. Men’s baseball & women’s softball teams are already competing in the NJCAA Division II.

• As part of the Hampton Roads Chamber Alliance our community has a larger voice for legislative advocacy.

• Successful “Jiffy knee” surgery perfected by Dr. Manish Patel is performed on a regular basis at Southampton Memorial Hospital. Patients even travel from other states to Southampton Memorial for this unique procedure because rehabilitation is significantly faster.

• PDCCC expanded enrollment in the three-week Verizon sponsored STEM program from 50 to 75 young girls.

• Every week this summer locals and out of town guests will enjoy the We Be Jammin’ concerts, Franklin Cruise In, Franklin’s Market on Main and Courtland Farmers Market.

• The Start Up Program just awarded over three new businesses locating in the community

• New clients continue to lease space in the Franklin Business Center

• During Virginia Garden week, hundreds of out of town guests visited Franklin to tour six beautifully renovated homes featured by the Franklin Garden Club.

Throughout this article you will see a trend. Major industry expansions, businesses relocating to our community, small businesses starting, investing and growing, new workforce training opportunities, information requests to visit us or buy a home.

We encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to do business locally. All local businesses put in their heart and soul to support this community. We should return the favor. It takes all of us, working together, to make our community thrive.

For information about becoming involved in the Chamber or more engaged in moving the community forward call 562-4900.

TERESA BEALE is the executive director of the F-S Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at teresa@fsacahmber.org.