Chamber Board members have organized the work that the Chamber in the efforts toward Vision 2020 goals by concentrating them into 4 categories.
Chamber General Activities
Yearly activities- Oil Festival (2nd Sat. in October) , Christmas in the Park (1st Sat. in December), Awards Banquet (third Thursday in February), Easter in the Park (Saturday close to Easter) Business Expo (in conjunction with Meet the Hawk in August prior to the start of school)
Christmas Lights and banners along the streets of Hawkins
Committees that chair the work of the Chamber including- Nominations, Events, Budget, Economic Development, Programs, Membership
Membership meetings- this year set as quarterly events
Communication- Website, Social Media (Facebook- Hawkins Area Chamber & Hawkins Area Business), Marquee in town, Member Newsletters and Emails.
Chamber Restorative Activities
-Several buildings are the focus of re-purposing inquiries. Some of these include- the Phillips 66 Station, the old nursing home, the old laundry mat, the former Family Dollar store, and the former dry cleaners
-Several business owners along Main Street are in the process of planning for updates to their facades.
-Several entities have expressed an interest in helping to get the ball fields "tournament ready"
Chamber Economic Development Activities
New Businesses on the Way- new businesses are planned for the old cleaners, the corner of 2869 and FM 14, and a new lumber yard at JP's.
The Small Business Incubator- The conversion of the former Church of Christ building is proceeding well and should be available for first businesses shortly after the first of the year. Right now it appears that there will be space for 5 startup businesses. If you have an idea and want to start your own business, an address and shared office equipment as well as your own office space and use of a shared private conference room on a scheduled basis will help control your costs until you grow to the point of needing more space. The assistance of Tyler Junior College Small Business Development Center will also be available to you free of charge. Your "rent" will be just for the amount of space that you need, not a whole building so you can better control your start-up costs.
There is much going on. We can use the support of the Hawkins Area to help us set things into motion to increase the sales tax revenue for the area to fund even further improvements. Stay informed and help where you can.
JB's Journal - Aunt Jemima's East Texas Roots
Hawkins Town Hall
Meeting hosted by city of Hawkins and Hawkins Area Chamber of Commerce. Meeting called to order at 6:00 PM.
Dr. Debi Crawford, president of the HACoC, welcomed the community to the town hall and explained Vision 2020 - Seizing our future, while building on our past. She stated that our goal is to reclaim our history and build on it, bringing 20 new businesses or economic development projects by the end of 2020. We want our youth to have the opportunity for good jobs in this community.Small business incubator
- Introductory video explained the concept of what an incubator is and what it does. Dr. Crawford explained the agreement the Chamber has entered into with the school district for use of a building on FM 14 that will be renovated to be the business incubator. The school district will not be charging any rent for the first three years. We will be packaging and marketing a pancake mix, building on our designation as Pancake Capitol of Texas, to fund the building in the future.Main Street Beautification
- We will encourage a more unifying look for downtown Hawkins, and work on beautifying the area around the welcome signs coming into town. We will be working on Saturday, May 20th.Reclaim the Pancake Capitol of Texas
- J. B.'s Journals has come and done a story on this story and it will air in June. We had a pancake contest and we will have our own recipe to market. We are also commissioning our own blend of coffee. We will be serving that at the incubator, and we are hoping to have a drive-thru window. Registry of Businesses to Provide Internships/Apprenticeship
- This is further down the road, but we want to set up a registry of businesses that can provide opportunities for young people to serve as interns or apprentices.Chamber Website
- Visit the Chamber website at hawkinschamber.org or the Chamber Facebook
page to keep up with what is going on.
Dr. Crawford asked for ideas for businesses that we want to see in Hawkins.ETCOG Environment and Development Programs
Julie Bermfield introduced the East Texas Council of Government (ETCOG) and its services.
- EDA program - doesn't do direct economic development but provides assistance to undertake economic development projects; writes EDA grants for anyone in the counties they serve as a free service.
- Solid Waste program - money comes from state and is passed to local communities for solid waste projects and she thinks that this would be a beneficial program for Hawkins; it's a one year grant and applications are sent out in August or September. Another grant we could apply for is a litter abatement officer who will enforce codes and clean up the community.
- Community Development program - block grant program; criteria determined by board and maximum amount for grant application is $275,000 and can be for any infrastructure projects, e.g. sewer.
- Air Quality program - doesn't give out grants; monitors air quality in East Texas.
- Grant Writing program - probably one of the most beneficial for Hawkins; will do grant research and writing for the community free of charge; also does post-grant work, which is for a fee but they write the fee into the grant to minimize impact to the community.
- Small Business Loan program - have a long-term fixed rate loan program; helps with lower rates and poorer credit scores. Loans go anywhere from $50,000 to $3 million.
Tommy Ricks introduced the Sustaining Communities program.
Texas Rural Leadership Program
- Work to build local leadership capacity
- Were known as Community Resource Group until 2015
- Mission focus can be divided into three parts
- o Environmental
- o Entrepreneurship consulting
- o Community sustainability
- Entrepreneurship focuses on four areas
- o Ideas for businesses and the viability of these ideas
- o Transition businesses - helping people who have been in business and are ready to move on be realistic in valuing the business and finding the right people to sell it to
- Environmental services
- o Help communities with infrastructure project funding
- o Also help with compliance with clean water, either drinking or from waste water
Angie Monk, County Extension Agent, spoke about the resources she offers. Most people aren't aware of the community development part of the office; they work with A&M. She brought a catalog of services available. Their offices are located in Quitman.
Discussion and Questions
- Texas Rural Leadership program - good way to start is to develop the leaders present in the community. There is a fee to this program. Success stories are on their website.
- Texas A&M specialists in College Station - available for help. Willing to come and do programs in the community.
- Texas Hospitality Training program - more than just a smiling face. Workshop and training series for current and new businesses.
- Park Development
- Disaster Education for rural communities
Do these programs require land use/code programs from the city?
- All federal programs that involve infrastructure require environmental impact studies.
- It is part of the grant writing process.
- We have to come together as a community and decide what we want.
Lissa Reynolds pointed out that some of the businesses we said we want exist in the Hawkins area already. There is a dry cleaner by the Holly Lake Volunteer Fire Department. There are two body shops, a hardware store in the area and a computer repair place at Willful Crossing.
Ricky Rutherford pointed out that we have been close to getting some big businesses. We need an industrial park. There are some good places that would be suitable. We are limited by water lines for development.
A question was asked about when Chamber meetings are held. Beginning in June, Chamber mixers will be the first Tuesday of the month at Red Rooster Icehouse at 6 pm. Business will be conducted at the board meetings, which are held on the Tuesday before the mixer meeting. All are welcome to attend and participate, though voting is limited to board members. Businesses mentioned by Lissa that are already in Hawkins Hardware-JP's - Located on Hwy 80 Computer and Cell Phone Repair - Willful Crossing
Auto Body and Repair - Hwy 14 near produce stand / Cleaners - Holly Lake Ranch