By: The Public Affairs Committee of the Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center

IMG_7544In a recent event held by the Chamber, a representative from the Alabama Attorney General’s office came to discuss a lawsuit against the Census Bureau surrounding the issue of counting illegal immigrants for the sake of congressional representation on the 2020 Census. The duo spearheading this lawsuit include Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Alabama Representative Mo Brooks (R). “Congressional seats should be apportioned based on the population of American citizens, not illegal aliens,” Brooks said in a recent press release. The duo claim that the rule of counting all those who reside in a specific population, whether legal or illegal citizens, for the distribution of congressional representatives is a violation of the 14th amendment—granting citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States.
DSC07291Their argument also outlines that this rule is inconsistent with other federal laws and is
inconsistent with the constitutional goal of equal representation. “The Constitution does not permit the dilution of our legal residents; right to equal representation in this manner,” Marshall said in the press release.

When asked if the lawsuit was insisting that illegal immigrants who are very much so a part of the community should be excluded from the Census count, which is critical to school systems and local and state funding, the representative stated that the lawsuit is aimed only to address counting illegal immigrants in terms of the distribution of congressional representation amongst the states and is not concerned with the funding aspect of the Census.

IMG_7143Alabama is one of the few states that has taken the initiative to file a lawsuit surrounding this issue. Coincidentally, Alabama is one of the only states who will have something to lose from the counting of illegal immigrants. Currently, Alabama has seven seat in the U.S. House and nine votes in the Electoral College. Out of 50 states, Alabama is one of the few states who is projected to lose a congressional seat if illegal immigrants are counted going form seven and nine to six and eight. This means more citizens in Alabama crammed into larger districts of representation, and consequently less representation for Alabama on a national scale. The lawsuit states that in 2010 states including Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio lost house seats because people in the country illegally were included, while California, Texas, and Florida, with high illegal immigrant populations, gained seats. In addition, Alabama also stands to lose federal funding that is based on the census that would otherwise be used for highways, programs for children, low-income families, and healthcare.

This is why it is extremely important to complete the Census with or without the lawsuit. In order for Alabama to be fairly represented on a national scale, we must have representatives to be our voices in the policy-making process. Filling out the Census is just one step in ensuring that our votes are not diluted and our voices are not over looked. Other ways to get involved is to join our Public Affairs Committee of the Chamber. We have a subcommittee specifically designed to increase awareness of the importance of the Census in 2020 as well as to be involved in other local, state, and federal issues.


rcYou’ve just opened your new business or are planning to commence construction for your new building. You want to celebrate and have the community recognize your business.

Ribbon Cuttings with the Chamber are the perfect way to do that!


The Chamber offers free ribbon-cutting ceremonies for its members!

Ribbon Cuttings are a celebration at the Chamber, and typically, held during normal business hours and featuring light refreshments provided by the business. The Chamber brings the ribbon and scissors and helps publicize your celebration.

20141113_104303For more information or to schedule your ribbon cutting, contact the Chamber at 256-237-3536. Please submit your event information at least a month before your desired event date.

As a business or individual, great opportunities come from learning the language to communicate with all our neighbors, customers and the deaf community as a whole.

It’s all around.


Millions use sign language as their native language. Because there is silence, you may not always notice it. If you’re in customer service or hospitality, those who use sign language love and appreciate when others use it to communicate. If you’ve traveled, you’ll understand, but imagine being in a foreign country and hearing your native language for the first time in a week. It makes your day, your trip, for someone to understand you and give you the opportunity to express yourself.

It’s easy & beautiful. aidb logo

Most foreign languages revolves around sentence structure; however, sign language is very simple and uses many common gestures we pick up quickly. As an individual, knowing American Sign Language is a great marketable skill, and you never know the impact you could have by knowing how to communicate. Instead of forcing co-workers or customers to get frustrated while attempting to read our lips, let us show we care.

Join us on Thursday, July 26, from 9:00 to 11:00 A.M. at the Chamber & Visitors Center for a Basic Sign Language Course with the Alabama Institute for Deaf & Blind. There is no charge to attend, but due to limited seating, register by calling (256) 237-3536.

success conceptPlanning, launching and growing a business can be overwhelming; however, there are many resources available here, locally, to help you navigate any entrepreneurial venture.

The Chamber & Visitors Center organizes “Business Basics” workshops in each municipality to introduce up and coming entrepreneurs to area organizations, who offer resources, counseling and advisement, and meet the points of contact they will need for each step of starting and opening a business.

Plan Your Business

alarm-clock-calendar-close-up-908298From market research and analysis of competitors to calculating costs and writing a business plan, the Jacksonville State University Small Business Development Center has a host of counselors to meet with you and make sure you have everything in order to get your business up and running.

Launching Your Business

Once you’re ready, you still have to choose a location, a structure, and a name. Then, you have to register your business, apply for licenses and permits, get insurance and open a bank account. If you’ve ever considered Piedmont as a possible business location, be sure to join us on Thursday, June 21st for their Business Basics. You’ll meet the very people you will need to speak with for permits, etc.

Business Management

achievement-agreement-arms-1068523Local resources like SCORE and SBA also assist already established businesses with managing finances, marketing & sales, preparing for emergencies and more, so even if you want to grow your business, come meet those who can assist you every step of the way. Business Basics, set for June 21 in Piedmont, is open to the public at no charge, but there is limited seating. Please call and reserve your seat with the JSU SBDC at (256) 782-5271.

The Shakespeare ProjectThe Chamber & Visitors Center promotes and sustains the economic growth of Calhoun County’s region. The Chamber Foundation focuses on education, workforce development, marketing & community development, creating programs to enhance our schools & leverage businesses.

The Shakespeare Project

In 1972, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival was established in Anniston, with performances presented in the high school auditorium. In 1985, the Festival moved to Montgomery. In 2018, we are bringing the Bard, William Shakespeare back to Anniston with free professional productions of Julius Caesar August 15 through 17, for our schools, and August 18 & 19, for our community at the Anniston Performing Arts Center, the original home of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Copy of A film about doomed love

The Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center, the JSU English & Drama Departments, local schools, Anniston Parks & Rec and local arts organizations, including the Knox Concert Series and CAST, are joining forces to produce these performances FREE of charge. Funding for the Shakespeare Project is made possible by grants from the Harland Jones Fund of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, the Alabama Humanities Foundation our state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, along with many local contributors.

IMG_9411The intent of these performances is to complement the required reading curriculum of high school students reading the play and is meant to enhance their study of not only the work of Shakespeare, but theater and literature in general. Along with the free professional performances, we are also hiring local high school students and college students for apprenticeships, shadowing and learning from our professional production team. We are also partnering with the American Shakespeare Center to offer their “Teaching Shakespeare” training to our teachers this summer.

For more information, follow “The Shakespeare Project AL” on Facebook, call (256) 237-3536 or email

JSU - 3

When the Chamber & Visitors Center began a marketing audit, to track and analyze our brand on a regular basis, we knew we wanted to try something new. So, we reached out to our future, engaging JSU students.

The School of Business & Industry

We started the brand review with marketing students in the School of Business & Industry as an outside class project. Dr. Brent Cunningham, Professor of Business Administration and Interim Head of the Management & Marketing Department, brought together Allison Chiaramonti, Jonnisha Norman, Leigh Dyal and Jonathon Clifton. They reviewed everything from brand effectiveness to opportunities for growth. These students helped us define elements of our brand identity and gave us examples for integration. This group of students developed the new tagline of “Your Business, Your Community, Your Playground.”

DSC06935School of Arts & Humanities

Once we had the messaging re-established, we took the ideas from marketing to junior and senior level graphic design students in class with Professor Chad Anderson, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. This class of Meghan Lee, Savannah Smith, Christian Everhart, Harley Stickney, Gen Ulanday, Kaylee Woodall, Shelby Holman, Paula Oliver, Jesse Michael and Austin Whitt met with Chamber staff members to discuss aesthetics, from color to visuals. Then, each student, individually, developed a proposed logo to encompass the vibes described and the new brand and messaging presented by the marketing students. Even during literal storms, these students continued in their designs and prepared their presesntations. In the end, two logos were selected, and those students collaborated to create the Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center’s new logo.


Summer Stock

May 31, 2018

alarm-clock-calendar-close-up-908298Summer, while many take vacations and holiday weeks are slower and quiet for some, it’s a good time to work on organization and maintenance in any business.

Clean the clutter

Are there still holiday decorations? Are there boxes in every corner? If so, Summer is a good time to organize, declutter, and straighten up the workspace.


Summer is a great time to check everything from the fire extinguisher to the exit sign lights, from the emergency preparedness plan to the HVAC vents, and the door locks to any needed business renovations.
Ask the Staff
To increase positivity and performance, ask your staff what they need to get the job done or to make their work even better. It may be as simple as rearranging an office, or it may be reviewing organizational structure.

Dare to Try
Summer is a great time to test the waters and new things. So, if you’ve never attended a Chamber Event or always wanted to join the Chamber, give it a try!

What YPs are saying?

May 23, 2018

The organization of the Chamber of Commerce in Calhoun County originated in 1910 with the Anniston Chamber, so why and how is the Chamber still relevant today?

Get Plugged Innet

Through its online presence, and social media alone, the Chamber reaches our community with celebrations of Ribbon Cuttings, Community Events and more! We’re also able to store and share information, including job postings, event calendars and news releases through our member only database of ChamberMaster.


engageHow do you set yourself apart from your Competitors? Join the Chamber! When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.

Be A Part of Community 

From Business & Biscuits to Lunch & Leads or Business After Hours, Salute to Industry,  the Business EXPO and more, we have something for everyone. The Chamber offers you the opportunity to network and promote your company to the over 200,000 Chamber Member employees.

networkIncreases Business & Reach

Our event calendar alone had more than 10,000 searches in 2017. Think of the potential audience you can reach through the Chamber!

Tools & Resources 

From workshops to our network of business organizations, we’re here to help you. We are a 4-Star Accredited Chamber, promoting and sustaining the economic growth of the Calhoun County Region, which means we want you to succeed which helps our communities succeed.

Join Now! 

New LCC Logo-Color 2015

Leadership Calhoun County (LCC) is a program of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and is designed to prepare and build upon leadership resources within our entire county. Each class will be comprised of leaders and emerging leaders of this area.
This ten month program is broken down to days in the program of work.
From trust falls to climbing walls, Team Building & Orientation Day brings the classmates together quickly.
CDP Day takes participants to the Center for Domestic Preparedness for an in depth tour and scenario, allowing class members to experience the training first hand. The day also includes a “how to” for media interviews in times of crisis and success.
Anniston Army Depot Day allows class members to see the workforce and production of our area’s largest employer, the Anniston Army Depot.

IMG_5849Economic Development & Industry Day introduces class members to various industries of all sizes and types, showcasing the diversity our communities rely on for success.
Education Day breaks the class into groups, who then go and tour schools of different sizes and types to compare resources available at each individual school and school system.
Cultural Arts, Board Training, and Financial Sector Day prepares leaders for possible opportunities to serve in the community, make a lasting impression and learn how to do it best.
Healthcare Day provides class members behind the scenes tours of healthcare facilities in the county and allows them to hear directly from healthcare leaders about challenges

and successes.

DSC03409Local Government & Law & Justice Day merges with Youth Leadership Calhoun County to provide a tour of the county courthouse, the county jail and the county administration building.
State Government Day transports the class to Montgomery, touring the Capitol, the House, the Senate and hearing pending legislation and issues up for debate.
Small Business & Community Service Day features a panel of small business owners and tours of local small businesses. The day also includes an activity with the United Way, showing the importance of area non-profits.20180419_085415
Quality of Life Day puts community history and knowledge to the test as the class breaks into small groups on a mission to solve multiple scavenger hunt clues.
If this sounds like a wonderful opportunity that could benefit your business, complete an LCC Application this summer! Email for more information.

2018 is the 15th year the Chamber has celebrated and recognized the role local small businesses, individuals and organizations have in our local economy. This year, we recognized 23 small businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurs, who were nominated by their customers and members of the public.


An entrepreneur is defined as a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. Our 2018 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Karla Eden of Taste of Eden, has evolved from a  hobby of making specialty cakes into a full-time growing business with a new storefront coming to Noble Street in Historic Downtown Anniston in 2018.

DSC06999Calhoun County has been known as an extremely giving community. Through programs like Meals on Wheels and interfaith cooperation and understanding, our 2018 Non-Profit of the Year, Interfaith Ministries, provides assistance and serves as an advocate for individuals and families in crisis.

DSC07001An emerging business is defined as a business in existence for less than 5 years. These businesses are just beginning to make their mark. Beginning within a small room of another historic downtown Anniston business, within two years, our 2018 Emerging Small Business of the Year, Rosa Lee Jewelry, has experienced 900% growth, moved to a new 2000 square foot space, with even more space being considered for the future.

DSC07003Our Sustaining Small Business Award recognizes a business that has been in existence for more than 5 years. These businesses are the ones who have re-invented themselves, from time to time. Beginning with one employee in 1999, our 2018 Sustaining Small Business of the Year, New Leaf Marketing, has now expanded to three locations, evolving with the market trends daily, offering more than 3 million products and aiding clients in marketing initiatives from start to finish.

DSC07005The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a business, which has set the precedence for our area small businesses. Family Owned and operated for over 80 years, J.W. Bennett first established Bennett Lumber Company in 1920, as strictly a sawmill operation, and in 1947 J.W. Bennett stepped down and handed over the company to his son J.O. Bennett, who took the company a step further by adding a dry kiln and a planer mill. After graduating college in 1973, J.O.’s oldest son James W. Bennett started eager to learn, and since 1983 he has been holding the reins of the company.

DSC07008The Larry K. Sylvester Small Business Advocate Award recognizes an individual or group that provides assistance and support to small businesses.  Headquartered at the Entrepreneurial Center, the Anniston SCORE Chapter is a partner of the Small Business Administration and a volunteer organization/nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business.