The mission of the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce, over 350 members strong, is to improve the business environment and enhance quality of life in the area. As such, the Chamber plays an active role in community development and economic restructuring in Blytheville. Working closely with city governments and other key organizations, such as Great River Economic Development Area Foundation and Main Street Blytheville, the Chamber strives to bring the best of all things to the area.
The Blytheville region, which lies in the Mississippi River Delta region of northeast Arkansas has had a tumultuous business history, and it what is a transitional area of the country, much of the work at the Chamber focuses on growth potential. Over 600 people comprise committee rosters and membership rolls in this strong and growing Chamber of Commerce, all of them at work at building business and workforce for the area.
The Chamber that serves the Blytheville area is unusual: While it does provide networking programs, including business after hours events, a monthly luncheon series and an annual banquet that attracts nearly 500 people, it also is the recipient of statewide awards for its programming. Ten years ago, the Chamber initiated “Money for Main,” a grant-making and lending program designed to reestablish the charm and viability of the historic downtown area of Blytheville. Multiple businesses have enhanced their storefronts, while others purchased and renovated buildings to open new businesses. The Chamber received the state award from Main Street Arkansas, as well as a nomination for a national award, for championing downtown.
The Blytheville Chamber also targets education as an important component in improving quality of life and prosperity in the area. The “Bookin’ with the Chamber” program, together with the Chamber commitment to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (called “Books from Jan,” and set up in memory of a former education committee chair) earned the Arkansas Reading Association’s Celebrate Literacy Agency Award in 2011, despite completion from many other organizations in the state. And it doesn’t stop there. To develop initial funding for these programs, the Chamber partnered with the iconic That Bookstore in Blytheville to produce “Stardust on Blytheville,” an onstage interview program that featured such notables as authors John Grisham, Charlaine Harris and Pat Conroy; actor George Hamilton, and political figures Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice, and raised over $25,000.
The secret to the success of The Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce is innovate programming and partnership—the Chamber serves as a hub in its work with community organizations and it also works closely with city governments and enjoys a solid relationship with legislators at the national and state levels.
If you are visiting Blytheville, visit the Chamber — see the beautiful headquarters located right in the heart of town at 300 West Walnut, and learn more about the people who make this mid-South community so special. It’s often said that the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce is “where Southern hospitality begins.” In all truth, the phrase may not have originated here, but you will find it to be well perfected art.