Coweta in Focus

Chambers of commerce help bring community needs to reality

by Candace Boothby

Last month, The Newnan Times-Herald ran a guest editorial from the Newnan-Coweta Chamber that appeared under the heading, “Chamber 101.” That heading was right on the button because it basically explained why chambers exist and what they do for their membership and, by extension, our community.

But more than any reason, chambers of commerce exist is to provide the leadership on a community level that is necessary to bringing what our community “needs” into reality. Nearly everyone has a list of what “needs” to be done, but how does it get done and who leads the process? Our Chamber tries to identify and quantify those needs and then, the important and most difficult part, start moving into implementation. The Newnan-Coweta Chamber is razor-focused on providing leadership.

For example, with the strong growth of our healthcare industry segment, the Chamber is heavily involved in bringing players together in order to create the methodology needed to get things done and to avoid getting bogged down in the bane of all ideas: who gets the credit?

The community gets the credit for agreeing on the sale of Newnan Hospital to Piedmont Healthcare in 2007. Every deal must have leadership, and the Chamber was proud to assist in bringing the players to the table to make Piedmont Newnan Hospital a reality for our community.

After the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital was completed in May of 2012, and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America opened soon after, there was a need to provide trained employees for operations. The Chamber applied for and received a grant from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education for the purpose of assisting nursing students in the completion of the Certified Nursing Assistant exams at West Georgia Technical College.

The Chamber has supported and leveraged support for the construction of the Poplar Road interchange to facilitate access to Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s 24-hour Level II trauma center. This will be a long-term but necessary process, and the Chamber will step in whenever asked to support this important transportation need.

The Chamber was asked to support the required Certificate of Need for the construction on the soon-to-break-ground HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital as well as the proposed Newnan Behavioral Hospital, which will provide much needed mental health services to not only Newnan but the Heard, Meriwether, Fayette and Troup counties region.

Establishing the atmosphere of becoming a “healthcare destination” requires the cooperation of many organizations and hundreds of people both within and without Coweta County. The requirement for an entity to pursue the myriad steps for a successful completion falls upon the Chamber for many responsibilities that it is only too happy to provide as a member of the Coweta leadership team. But the rewards will be many in the years to come. More jobs, more tax revenues, more hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities resulting in more positive growth for an already strong community.

Chambers of commerce, when successful, fly below the radar but appear on the rolodexes of elected officials and community leaders. It’s hard work, to be sure, but well worth the effort.

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