Madison rebranding the Chamber
MADISON — The city is “redefining economic development” by merging the Chamber of Commerce with the Economic Development Department to create Madison Community Partners, the mayor announced this week.
Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler said the city is rebranding to better serve businesses and plan for the future.
“In the early-’80s, we defined housing as our industry and people as our businesses,” Hawkins-Butler explained. “We focused on a safe city and quality of life to build the premiere place to live in Mississippi.”
Hawkins-Butler said there was always a vision that once the rooftops came, the city would then move to attract commercial growth.
“We flipped it,” she said. “Instead of focusing on commercial first, we considered residential as our industry. Now that the numbers are here and the rooftops have been counted, we can focus on building our commercial base.”
Hawkins-Butler said the rebranded economic development arm includes a merger with the Madison the City Chamber of Commerce. For years, the city partially funded the chamber.
The mayor said COVID-19 really amplified the decision to move forward with the rebranding.
“COVID changed a lot and brought a lot of things to light,” she said. “We were concerned about businesses surviving and what can we do to promote the businesses to keel them open. This was a wake-up call.
“We discussed through the years when the time would be right (to rebrand economic development),” she continued. “COVID was the eye-opener that now is the time because Madison is a strong economic engine and we want to keep it strong. We want to be able to grow our businesses and we want to be able to encourage more businesses to move to our city and to help those that have chosen to invest here.”
Brittany Mayfield, who currently serves as manager of special events for the city, will lead the new rebranded department.
“It’s going to be new, and unique, and different, and a lot of change,” she said. “I’m excited. This is just what our city needs in order to take the next step and grow and prepare for all the potential growth we have on the horizon.”
Mayfield said one of the big differences between the old chamber model and the new model is there are no membership fees or dues.
“Our goal is to have this open line of communication with all our businesses,” she said. “When they succeed, the city succeeds. It’s the circle of life.”
Mayfield said Madison Community Partners will be open to all businesses in the city limits.
Hawkins-Butler said this is just the first step in a much bigger plan she said the community will see play out soon.
“When you look at the overall picture, our businesses are really proud of this city, their city,” she said. “The developers and businesses build a cut above. They do more for this community than most communities require. And they pay ad valorem taxes, they pay sales tax, they pay inventory tax, and for a license. They are part of the very fiber of this city.”
In addition to Mayfield, former city economic advisor Steve Vassallo will serve as a consultant for the department.
Hawkins-Butler said they will begin by focusing on development of the city’s downtown square, as well as developable property the city currently owns.
“We have the location, we have the disposable income, and we have the quality of life people are looking for,” Hawkins-Butler said. “We’re just going to take Madison to another level.”
Madison Community Partners will be located in the old Madison the City Chamber of Commerce building at 2023 Main Street. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday, July 2 at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.