Columbus Commerce has Positive 2009 Outlook

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) -  Times are tough but members of the members of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce say there's light at the end of the tunnel for local businesses.

They discussed their accomplishments over the past year and their goals for the upcoming year at their annual meeting today.

"There are going to be a lot of people coming to town in the next two years and that's going to create all kinds of opportunities for retailers and car dealers and other businesses. We're blessed in the sense that we're going to experience a lot less of the crisis that the rest of the country's going to be going through," said Russ Carreker, Chamber Chair.

A major reason for that is the expansion of Fort Benning. Commanding General Mike Barbero says a $3.5 billion construction program is already underway.

"Most of it is this year, next year and the following year. That's all funded, on track and on schedule. It's exciting for Fort Benning. Our impact on the Army will increase. Our impact on the community will increase. We're looking to maintain our partnership with the community," said General Barbero.

Thanks to BRAC and KIA's new plant, Chamber officials say there's light at the end of the tunnel for area businesses.

"We're still in some tough times but we'll be coming out of this within the next six months. Our economy is going to come out before Georgia will and it's much stronger than the state and the region. We just encourage people to hang on. We'll work with you. We'll help you. Better times are on the way and we're working hard to make sure they get here sooner rather than later," said Mike Gaymon, Chamber President.

Small businesses seeking information from the Chamber are asked to call 706-327-1566.

On a side note, at today's meeting, the Chamber awarded their Jim Woodruff Jr. Memorial Award into the hall of fame for Columbus leadership to Paul Amos, one of the principal founders of Aflac for all of his contributions to the local and global economy.