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Sensing a void in Radcliff, a group of small business owners latched on to an idea for a group that would create networking opportunities and increase bottom lines.
The independent business owners have affiliated with the American Independent Business Alliance to expedite the legal process of drafting a charter and bylaws, launching the Radcliff Small Business Alliance to help those who do not have large pockets or significant influence held by chains and big box stores.
Founding board member Jerry Brown, who owns The Bookstore on West Lincoln Trail Boulevard, said Glendale has its own small business association and he believes the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce has shifted most of its focus toward Elizabethtown, leaving Radcliff’s small businesses on their own.
“We simply have no voice,” he said. “We’re having a hard time making it.”
Brown said Radcliff has some “treasures” and is a special place with a lot to offer.
The alliance is in its fledgling stages but is considering a mentoring initiative to help startup businesses and has discussed pooling resources to purchase advertising, Brown said.
The Small Business Alliance will lean heavily on Facebook and other social media outlets to highlight and promote businesses in the area as a way to help one another. Alliance President Terry Shortt said the group will produce short videos profiling small businesses on Facebook as a marketing tool.
The group also intends to conduct monthly meetings as networking options for small businesses to interact with, buy from and promote one another.
Shortt said about 30 businesses have joined. He projects the alliance will boast 60 members by the time it hosts a general membership meeting at 6 p.m. April 9 at Caroline’s Alpine Haus. Mayor J.J. Duvall is booked as the keynote speaker.
John Flanagan, a board member who runs a consulting service, said the alliance likely will shift its monthly meetings to different restaurants as a way to drive business toward community establishments and flaunt the city’s eclectic array of cuisine.
Flanagan said Radcliff is not a typical small town because it has a burgeoning international community with a cultural smorgasbord of shops and restaurants because of its ties to the military and its transient population.
“They’re probably the guys and gals we can help the most,” he said of the international business owners.
Because it has no downtown or centralized mall, Flanagan characterized Radcliff’s business layout as a series of shopping districts personified by the roads they front. In each case, the districts have their own character and offer different services, he said. To take advantage of that arrangement, he floated the idea of marketing particular districts at specific times, funneling traffic to those businesses.
Flanagan and other members have approached small business owners with membership applications and benefits to stir up interest in the alliance. Crossing the threshold of some stores for the first time, Flanagan said he routinely has been impressed with the level of professionalism and quality of merchandise and services available.
Shortt believes virtually all Radcliff small business owners eventually will join the alliance.
“We don’t have any other resource for small business owners to my knowledge,” he said.
Once it stabilizes its membership base, Shortt said the alliance will hold elections for officers.
As part of its efforts, the organization has started a Buy Local program even more pointed than the one championed by the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce. Flanagan described it as shopping where your house is.
Many who live in Radcliff likely drive to Elizabethtown for items available closer, Flanagan said. For example, he said someone may choose to drive to a big box hardware store in Elizabethtown when that person would save more time and burn less gas by purchasing lumber at a smaller hardware store in Radcliff.
“It does make sense to buy really local,” he said.
Radcliff Councilman Jacob Pearman, treasurer for the alliance, said he recognizes Radcliff does not have everything larger cities offer, but it does have a number of quality shops and restaurants residents are unaware of because they have not fully explored their options.
Pearman said this is where the alliance can serve as a an educational guide, aiding the community in consumer choices while increasing revenues for mom-and-pop stores. Pearman said the feedback he has heard about the alliance is one of excitement.
“I really just think it’s going to be a great success,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.