CHARLESTOWN — A new a voice has emerged to speak for the interests of Charlestown’s business community.
Patrick Fleming began serving as the president of the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce at the first of the year, and with control of the organization, he wants to protect existing businesses while welcoming new companies to the developing city.
“I believe that the Charlestown business community will continue to grow, and our role as a chamber will continue to expand,” Fleming said. “I would like to see the chamber further its partnerships between the local businesses, the community and the local schools.”
Fleming operates an Edward Jones Investments office in Charlestown and has been a member of the chamber for five years, including two years as its vice president.
Ron Repp, former chamber president, current chamber member and owner of Symmetric Management Systems in Charlestown, said he is confident in Fleming’s ability to lead the organization.
“Pat [Fleming] is energetic with great vision,” Repp said. “I think he will do a wonderful job as chamber president.”
During his time with the chamber, Fleming said he has seen how the organization can support Charlestown business.
Nearly 50 members comprise the organization, which began as a junior chamber in 1968, and became the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce in 1987.
Fleming and Repp said River Ridge economic development and the east end bridge will serve as major factors to bolster business growth in Charlestown for years to come.
“Both of these will result in an increased need for viable Charlestown businesses,” Fleming said. “Specifically, the east end bridge will connect the community to a much larger population in Jefferson and Oldham County.”
He said the bridge will not only allow Charlestown-area residents to more easily access Kentucky, but it could bring an untapped market into the area.
“It is still relatively affordable to live in the general Charlestown area, so if someone works in the east side of Louisville or even downtown Louisville, hopefully, they will begin looking for homes in Charlestown,” Fleming said.
He said the capabilities of the chamber are limited, but that there is no doubt its role is greatly expanding.
Fleming said one of the ways he and other chamber members will continue to align the needs of the city’s businesses with the community members is by improving methods of sharing information.
“I want to find way to improve communication,” he said. “It has gotten better, but we will continue to improve it between ourselves, the city, the school system. It is an area I want to improve upon.
“Our goal is to be the voice of both the local businesses and the community. We encourage Charlestown residents to shop locally whenever possible.”
Repp commended Fleming for using the chamber to reach out to Charlestown’s community members.
“The big thing going forward is Pat [Fleming] has made efforts to open up meetings to the public,” Repp said
He said the chamber is organizing public information sessions that will follow the chamber’s quarterly meetings.
Repp said during the community meetings the chamber will offer information that is “more broad and useful” to the public, than what is discussed at the regular meetings.
“Instead of just a business meeting, the information sessions will give more information about what is going on and provide general-interest information to public,” Repp said.
Fleming said the chamber is already incorporating the general public in its mission through the annual job fair, one of the organization’s largest events.
“The job fairs are going great, especially with all the new companies at River Ridge,” he said. “They need jobs filled and unemployment is still relatively high in Charlestown, so we are piecing that together. It’s a win-win.”
Fleming said Charlestown benefits from having its own chamber looking out for its community’s businesses, even though One Southern Indiana is in place for the interests of businesses throughout Clark and Floyd counties.
“1si and the Charlestown Chamber are very supportive of each other. Each group is a member of the other group and many members of the Charlestown Chamber are also members of 1si,” Fleming said. “There is a need for both functions. Our web site and Facebook page provide information to and about the Charlestown area and Charlestown businesses in an informal, directed manner that is useful to the people and businesses of Charlestown. At the same time, we rely on 1si for their regional functions.”
Repp said there is “a lot of overlap” referencing those who are members of each organization. He also praised the successful efforts of 1si to attract businesses to River Ridge.
Fleming said the commercial developments throughout Clark County make it an exciting time to serve as Charlestown’s chamber president and that he looks forward to both confronting the city’s unemployment rate and helping its businesses prosper.
The chamber’s upcoming meetings are scheduled for the third Thursday in March, June and September. The meetings take place at noon, and the public is invited to attend the information sessions that begin at 12:30 p.m. The venue of each meeting is subject to change, but the location is posted online before each meeting.
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