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Harrison takes helm at Chamber of Commerce

Rockdale Chamber calls on residents to ‘Shop Local’

Out-going Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce chairman Mo Talley, left, hands the gavel over to the 2012 Chairwoman Lorraine Harrison Tuesday during the chamber's annual meeting held at the Georgia International Horse Park. Harrison told the gathering the chamber will have a initiative this year to educate consumers on the importance to "Shop Local" and support local businesses.

Out-going Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce chairman Mo Talley, left, hands the gavel over to the 2012 Chairwoman Lorraine Harrison Tuesday during the chamber's annual meeting held at the Georgia International Horse Park. Harrison told the gathering the chamber will have a initiative this year to educate consumers on the importance to "Shop Local" and support local businesses.

CONYERS — Local publisher Lorraine Harrison took over as chairwoman of the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and said the public will learn more about the importance of shopping locally as part of a new initiative this year.

Harrison was introduced as the 2012 Chamber chairwoman at the Carriage Room in the Georgia International Horse Park at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting. She recalled Mayor Randy Mills at the State of the City address earlier this month urging residents to “Shop Local.”

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2012 Chamber President Lorraine Harrison does a little dance to the intro music during Tuesday's annual meeting of the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce.

“(Mills) addressed the group and said if you want to address the local community and economy, you should shop local,” she said. “These two words can make an incredible difference in our community and our economy. Think about those local businesses that you used to love shopping in and who are no longer with us. We cannot afford to continue the pattern of losing our locally-owned businesses.”

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The Citizen staff took hundreds of photos from Tuesday's annual Chamber meeting. Check out the best of the bunch and see if you were spotted at spotted.rockdalecitizen.com.

Harrison then announced a new public awareness program from the Chamber to get residents to shop locally. She said the Chamber will partner with the city and county governments, local media and small businesses to get the word out.

“Our goal is to change local consumer attitudes about how shopping local can stimulate our economy,” she said.

Members of the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners have also made comments at their meetings to tell people to shop locally. For government and public schools local sales mean tax revenue. Harrison added that shopping locally keeps local businesses thriving and wages coming into the homes of employees.

Harrison drove her point home with statistics that for every $1 spent at a locally-owned business, 68 cents is put back into the community. For every $1 spent at a national chain store located here, 43 cents stays in the community.

“If you shop online, who doesn’t have a business here, or you drive up I-20 in either direction and make your purchases there, we get zero,” she said. “This is important that when we make decisions on a daily basis.”

Mo Talley, outgoing Chamber chairman, opened the meeting by allowing Chamber committee chairpersons to highlight some of the accomplishments of the previous year. The Chamber emphasized member services with success in last year’s Operation Thank You where teams of volunteers visited all current Chamber members and delivered information packages to say thank you for their membership.

Other highlights of the year included:

• The chamber is one of 25 member chambers in the first class of the Georgia Certified Chamber program. Talley congratulated the work of the staff for this achievement. He noted that the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber was among those recognized out of the 150 chambers in Georgia.

“And I would guess that if they ranked those 25 chambers, we would have been No. 1,” Talley said.

The Georgia Chamber Certification program is based on a national accreditation program. Its purpose is to facilitate excellence in the chamber industry and foster a pro-business environment across the state.

• The Chamber graduated 52 students from the Chamber’s OPEN, Opportunities for Promoting Entrepreneurship & Networking, program.

• The Chamber saw 26 community leaders successfully complete Leadership Rockdale;

• The Chamber also recognized out-going Chamber board members Michael Hutchinson and Ethel Boyle for their service.

• The Chamber also recognized former Conyers City Councilman Marty Jones for his 23 years of service as an elected public official.