Chamber gets new look with new Web site

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The world is shrinking hourly, if not by the minute, and the key factor of the emerging global community is the Internet. In the space of a very few years the Internet has moved from the province of the military and major research institutions, right down to the desktop of anyone who has $20 or less to get a connection.

That being the case, more and more people are making their own plans for travel, relying primarily on the Internet. And for a community to be on the map, it literally must have an address on the World Wide Web.

Selma is aggressively promoting tourism and thus the Web is key to the future of those plans.

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The Chamber of Commerce plans to unveil its new enhanced Web site &045; &045; as the centerpiece of its plans for the new year at its forthcoming

annual meeting. The chamber gathering will take place at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. Congressman Artur Davis is the guest speaker.

Claire Twardy, executive director of the chamber, noted in an interview that the chamber has had a Web site for some time, which is linked with the tourism Web site &045; &045; but realized it was time for a facelift.

So the chamber commissioned Madden & Associates, a local firm, to take the chamber’s current site and upgrade it considerably. Madden worked closely with Web designer Phillip Wheat, according to Twardy.

The enhanced chamber Web site will continue to offer chamber members a free listing, including business name, address and phone number, as part of the annual membership

fee. Beginning in February 2004, however,

members may purchase an enhanced listing for a small additional fee through the chamber. This new listing will allow members to include their logo, hours of operation, a map to their business, a menu for restaurants (changed daily by the business) or five pictures of their product or business. The next level of enhanced listing will include a link to the business’ Web site if it so chooses, according to Twardy.

An updated events calendar, application for chamber membership, links to Tourism events and the Economic Development Authority &045; both located at the Centre for Commerce along with the Chamber of Commerce offices &045; are also on the site.

Twardy says that events may be added to the Web site’s calendar with approval of chamber staff.

Kathi Needham, 2004

board chairperson, will introduce the new Web site at the chamber’s annual meeting. When contacted, Needham, who as a business owner has already reaped a bountiful harvest through her Internet connection, had this to say: &uot;It makes Selma and Dallas County look like a full-service, open-24-hours-a-day community to the rest of the world who comes to us via the Internet. It’s 100 percent positive,&uot; she said.

Needham said that fully 50 percent of her bookings for the Bridgetender’s House Guest Suites on Water Avenue overlooking the Alabama River behind the St. James Hotel, which she and her husband own, come through the Bridgetender’s Web site.

Further, many businesses are linked to larger networks. In her case, her Web site links to the Bed and Breakfast Association of Alabama.

The same will be true for many other businesses listed, she said, so that tourists and others who plan a trip to Selma and west central Alabama, will be able to access information to make plans for all the time spent in Alabama.

Madden & Associates spokesperson, Carl Bowline, who noted that his firm has worked previously with the Centre for Commerce including designing the new logo, said, &uot;We enjoy working with the City of Selma and the Centre for Commerce, making Selma a brighter place.&uot;

Twardy said that tickets for the Thursday evening meeting of the chamber are still available and may be ordered by calling (334) 875-7241 or coming by the chamber office at 912 Selma Ave.