Tuesday, February 03, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Chamber sets a big agenda

Roger Sundermeier, the new president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, has a plan for reviving the city’s often dormant downtown. During his inaugural speech last week at the chamber’s annual banquet, Sundermeier announced the formation of a small-business initiative to support local businesses. He said Jacksonville needs a good mix of retail chains and restaurants and locally owned businesses.

He also announced a new movie program, called “Flicks on Bricks,” which will show outdoor movies at the Nixon library amphitheater starting this summer. He said “Red Tails,” a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, will be among the movies shown. Milton Crenshaw of Little Rock, one of the last living Tuskegee airmen, will be invited, Sundermeier said.

He said a Christmas movie will be shown after the city’s Christmas parade. For Halloween, the chamber plans to sponsor a trunk or treat in the library’s parking lot.

Sundermeier and Daniel Gray, the outgoing chamber president, both sounded optimistic in their speeches last week, even more upbeat than you would expect at a chamber function. Both noted that voters overwhelmingly approved of forming a new Jacksonville School District, an alcohol initiative that needs 1,415 more signatures and could go before the voters in early spring, as well as other improvements going on right now and just over the horizon.

It’s good to see a new generation stepping into leadership positions at the chamber. The chamber dinner was the most upbeat we’ve seen in a quarter of a century.

The message from the speakers was also one of optimism. Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, predicted economic growth for the state, which means more jobs and prosperity.

It was an inspiring evening and a good way to start 2015. Expect more good news this year.