Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

For nearly 50 years  the Franklin Chamber of Commerce has been located along 441 business in the same building and has served the community as a welcome and visitor center for people stopping by Franklin. With significant changes being planned by the N.C. Department of Transportation on the roads surrounding the current chamber, the chamber’s dream of expanding and growing is about to be realized as the Franklin Chamber of Commerce will soon be moving to a new location.

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce is in the process of purchasing the former Simple Elegance building located in the Holly Springs Shopping Center and hopes to close in the property next week. After being in the same building since 1969, according to Chamber Director Linda Harbuck, they should be moved into their new home next spring.

The two-level building is approximately 8,000 square feet and will include a visitor center and a walk-through promotion area of “Things to do while in Franklin.”

Harbuck noted that the move will give the chamber a chance for a higher-traffic location and will give members of the chamber of commerce the highest possible exposure. In addition to additional traffic to the chamber offices, Harbuck noted that the greatest benefit of the move will be more space.

“We will have four times the space we currently have with capability to offer more promotional opportunity for attractions, businesses and the community,” said Harbuck. “Increased traffic flow will increase our exposure and with good signage, hopefully we can attract more visitors to stop and allow us to better introduce them to Franklin.”

The new facility will host displays for local attractions like the Gem and Mineral Society Museum and the Historical Society Museum, have meeting spaces for businesses and organizations and have additional office space that will be available for rent.

With additional space and possibilities, Harbuck is looking to the community to help stock the chamber with Franklin souvenirs as well. “With the added space available to us, we are planning to dramatically increase inventory of souvenir items with the ‘Franklin’ name on them,” said Harbuck. “We want to work with our local vendors and businesses to display and sell local products. We will also have space available to hold workshops, seminars and networking events in-house.”

The transition will be a challenging one and the chamber is turning to the business community to help make it successful. Harbuck noted that support in the form of the donations of materials, labor, etc. and of course cash is crucial.  “We now have a 501(c)3 foundation which will allow donors to benefit from donating to a 501(c)3 non-profit,” said Harbuck. “The foundation is called Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce Community Enrichment Foundation. The new building and property will be owned by the foundation and the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce will lease space from the foundation.”

The chamber has also been working with members of the chamber to set up appointments to show rental and advertising space, along with room sponsorship opportunities.