Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
After being in the same location since 1969, volunteers and staff with the Franklin Chamber of Commerce spent last week moving to their new location along 441.
“We are officially in the building now,” said Linda Harbuck, director of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce. “LBJ Job Corp and Habitat for Humanity helped us move everything to the new building last week. We spent last Wednesday and Thursday getting everything in place and actually had a soft opening on Friday and Saturday. Thanks to contributions and support we have already had we are able to open our doors. Donors will be recognized in the building with signage.”
While the new location is open for business, there is still work to be done. “Our doors are already open, but we still need to get landscaping done outside and would like to have the parking lot coated and striped,” said Harbuck. “There are still small things to do inside like changing the ‘can lights’ to LED lights which isn’t as easy as it sounds because we will need a lift in order to reach a large number of them. Also, we need to have several light switches installed for the offices and some other areas of the building.”
The chamber of commerce’s new building features a new large sign declaring the facility a “Welcome Center.” While the building is still owned and operated by the chamber, Harbuck noted that by referring to the facility as a welcome center, they can better serve those passing through Franklin.
“There was no official ‘name change,’ I just felt that since there is a ‘Visitor Center’ already on 441 South, it would be better to be a ‘Welcome Center’ here,” said Hardback. “To me welcome center sounds more inviting for everyone and we certainly want our residents and business owners to stop by. We have added a lot of ‘name drop’ merchandise along with many unique gift selections for everyone.”
Funding for the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce is still primarily through membership and revenue from the special events that are produced and ad revenue. The building is under ownership of the new Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce Community Enrichment Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation.
“We are currently conducting a capital campaign for the building and all donations given to the Enrichment Foundation are tax deductible for the donor,” said Hardback. “The foundation will be conducting educational classes and workshops in the building in the near future. Eventually, when funds are available, we hope to establish scholarships.”
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.” 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.
“We are excited about the new location for the Franklin Chamber and Welcome Center because of the opportunities that are possible for our members and the community. We want everyone to stop by for a visit and see what we are able to offer the entire community. We hope everyone will be supportive and appreciate what we are doing. This move is not a selfish endeavor for the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, it is something for the entire Franklin community and area to benefit from,” said Harbuck.
The Chamber of Commerce will host a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the general public on June 20 at 11 a.m.