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Chamber shakeup was just a natural transition

After sharing duties and responsibilities for the past 2 and a half years, Kelley Smith and Jay Shows finally have their tasks divided and balanced.

As of January first, Kelley Smith assumed the role of Demopolis Chamber of Commerce president and Jay Shows is now the executive secretary of the Industrial Development Board.

“It was just a natural transition,” Shows said about the changes. “It’s kind of the way it’s been already.”

Smith was previously responsible for events and tourism, but as Chamber president, she has a lot more on her plate.

“I now have all the chamber duties. Membership, small business retail seminars, Leadership Marengo, and I will still be responsible for Christmas on the River and all those activities,” she said. “But I feel prepared.

I was in a position where I was involved in everything. It’s been a team effort for the past two and a half years.”

As president, Smith hopes to serve the existing Chamber membership and increase its members, promote economic vitality of Demopolis and continue business-recruiting efforts. She doesn’t have plans to change any of the existing programs because they are “working well.”

“This is something we’ve been working toward since the past year,” Shows said. “It’s not really much of a change.”

“Now Jay will be able to focus solely on the industrial side. It’ll be good to have someone full time to do research and make recruiting trips,” Smith said. “This will be a huge benefit to IDB and he’s a great person for that. It’s a perfect fit.”

Although Shows’ main focus is IDB, he said he still plans to work in tandem with the Chamber on lots of events.

“We still have the concept of a center of commerce,” he said.

As for the Wal-Mart Supercenter, both Smith and Shows agree it will move the city in a positive direction.

“Wal-Mart is ultimately good even though it will provide competition for existing businesses,” Smith said. “But competition isn’t always bad. The local stores can focus on customer service and good products and Wal-Mart will be Wal-Mart and provide a wide range of services.”

Shows said he expects the Supercenter to be packed wall to wall from its Jan. 25 opening well into the following weeks.

“I’d hate to be a Wal-Mart shelf stocker,” he laughed.

Although he and Smith have yet to receive an official word on the smaller stores surrounding the Supercenter, Shows said they are sure to increase tax revenue along with the new Wal-Mart.

“Hopefully they will join the Chamber,” Smith said.