FOLEY – The Chamber of Commerce has welcomed a new member, Director of Community Betterment and Pro-Business Advocacy Sally Westendorf. During a “Report Card” Luncheon held on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Foley Civic Center, Westendorf, along with Chamber President and CEO Donna Watts, gave a brief update on the second initiative on the three-tier, five-year plan.
“We’re going to be establishing a full committee soon,” Westendorf said. “And we want to work with existing organizations to develop an incubator program. Donna has said that where you help someone grow is where they’ll land, so we’re talking about setting up that program here in Foley.”
The biggest plans for the initiative so far consist of improving area infrastructure, which Watts discussed with the attendees.
“I remember a day early on in my career when the Department of Transportation would come in and save all of us from ourselves, and bring money and build new roads and pave them,” said Watts. “Well, that’s not happening anymore. The Department of Transportation doesn’t have the money to do that. So what’s happening is I’ll meet with their director, and he’ll say, ‘If you have half the money, then we’ll meet you halfway and we’ll get the project going.’”
Watts stated she knew Gulf Shores and Orange Beach had passed a tax that would help them build bridges, which she believes is a wonderful thing – but we have to have the roadways to match.
“It’s not going to help anyone if they can’t get to the bridge,” Watts said. “We’ve got to get people in here and out of here efficiently and safely, and I think this problem needs to be solved countywide.”
Watts expressed interest in working with the cities, the county, and the businesspeople to discuss plans to fund the effort to improve county roadways.
“I think it is unreasonable for us as adults who work hard, pay taxes, obey the law, do everything right, not to expect a plan for that,” said Watts. “So much hinges on it, and we hear about accidents and crashes every day. I really want to try to focus on getting our county together to talk about how to move forward as a county and improve our infrastructure.”
Watts stated aside from roadways, connectivity was another important issue that needs to be addressed in the county. With so many businesses and education facilities relying on Internet for their livelihoods, it is a vital part in getting people to live and work within the county, Watts stated.
“It’s going to all take some time and it’s not going to be easy or perfect, but it’ll be worth it if it’s successful,” said Watts.
For more information on the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the Gateway Initiative, check their website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com.