Demopolis Area Business Council focused on local economic growth

The local business landscape has a new entity in play as the Demopolis Area Business Council is finalizing its organizational efforts and shifting its focus toward its mission.

“We have two goals,” DABC President Tyler Windham said of the immediate future of the group. “One is structuring within, getting our organization figured out from top to bottom. That is an internal goal. As far as an external goal, we want to find our place amongst the other entities that are already striving for the same goals we are.”

The council formed with an eight-member board consisting of small business owners from around the city. With goals ranging from business recruitment to local economic development, the DABC has already drawn the interest of some 25 local businesspeople that have opted to become members.

“We have 25 partner members at this time. We have opened our list up and are about to start approaching more people,” DABC Secretary Jay Reynolds said. “I would say our success rate right now is 100 percent of every one we have asked to become a member.”

The group offers two membership levels consisting of an associate member status and a partner member standing. Associate members pay an annual fee of $75, a number that is reduced to $50 if the individual’s business is already a member of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

Partner members maintain voting rights in the group for an annual fee of $300, a cost that drops to $275 with the same qualifying Chamber of Commerce discount.

As the council begins looking at its external tasks, it must first find exactly where it fits on the current landscape of economic development agencies.

“We have met with the chamber. We have met with the mayor. We have met with the Marengo County Economic Development Authority and we have met with the IDB,” Windham said. “All four have given us positive feedback to this point. Our immediate goal is to get communication and cooperation from the existing groups that are already here.”

In addition to its plans to provide a quarterly newsletter focused on business topics, tips and updates, the DABC is currently devising an advertising campaign designed to encourage those in the Demopolis area to shop local.

“We are in the process of researching and planning for a shop local campaign in conjunction with several other groups,” Reynolds said. “Basically we want to do something a little different than what has been done before. We don’t want to just do a straight up graphic ‘Shop Demopolis’ and run it in the newspaper and on the radio. We want to get some specifics about the amount of tax dollars that come back to the city.”

As part of that campaign, the DABC aims to help outline the numerous local not-for-profit organizations that are annually benefited by the contributions of area small businesses.

“We’re working with a non-profit here in town to look at the amount of money that goes into our various organizations and school system that comes from these local businesses,” Windham said. “The only way that they’re able to donate this money, especially in our youth organizations such as little league and high school and even our churches and different charities in town and civic clubs, is because of the town’s support of these local businesses. The support all of these things is some people take for granted in Demopolis. We’d like that ad campaign to show the tax dollars floating down. We want to put some numbers and some meat and try to stress to some people that don’t work in that realm everyday where all these things that we have in Demopolis come from that makes Demopolis such a nice town comes from.”

The group has also formed a committee to focus on advertising the Demopolis area in business magazines and similar publications and programs outside of the immediate area.

That regional focus, Reynolds explained, is key for the group as it understands the relationship Demopolis has to its surrounding communities.

“We are called the Demopolis Area Business Council because we want to help support our entire area, whether it be southern Greene County or western Hale County or all of Marengo County or even Sumter County,” Reynolds said. “We feel that Demopolis can be the bearing in the middle of the wheel and our spokes reach out further than just the Demopolis city limits. So we want to make sure we don’t limit this to Demopolis.”