HAYNEVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - Lowndes County took a major step today with dreams of charting its own destiny.
It was somewhat historic, hopeful and full of optimism that life can be better in this Black Belt county.
Haigler Johnson cooked up a storm on Highway 80 with his mobile barbecue pit. Once the smoke clears, Johnson plans to give serious consideration about something he’s never done before - join the first-ever countywide chamber of commerce now open in Hayneville.
“If it’s going to be beneficial to me and my people in the area, yes sir,” Johnson said.
With the ribbon cutting in the books and the unveiling of the new sign, Lowndes County Area Chamber Of Commerce leaders hope this will be the beginning of something special for Lowndes County, long known for its high unemployment rate and little to no growth.
“The Bible says where there is no vision, the people perish,” said Ron Simmons, former leader of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce who spent time working with Hayneville officials in getting their new chamber off the ground.
“They want something different, somebody has to do the groundwork,” said Hayneville business owner Cynthia Payton Carter.
Community leaders say there has been a lot of talk over the years about creating a chamber but nothing came to fruition because it just wasn’t a priority.
Long time pharmacist Dr. O.L. Hubert came up with the idea and the rest they often say is history, the culmination of five years worth of planning and dreaming.
“We have a golden opportunity here in Hayneville,” Dr. Hubert said. “We are surrounded by major highways such as Highway 80. Highway 97 and Highway 21.”
Community leaders cobbled together $3,000 to get the chamber up and running. Their first order of business? Focus on recruiting business owners to join. Lowndes County has well over 100 businesses.
“Virgin ground.. a lot of business opportunities that can come to this,” said Rosa Timmons who owns the chamber property. Timmons says her family put in a lot of sweat equity in getting the vacant home in shape. It was built in 1958.
Aside from the 90 degree plus temperature, it was chamber weather under mostly clear skies. The real work begins in earnest to make the economic horizon even sunnier.
There are no paid positions at the Lowndes County Area Chamber of Commerce. That will come later. One of the first projects the chamber plans to pursue right away is a hospital in the area.