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New Chamber plans Welcome Center

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By Kellie Parkin

A Cedar Key Welcome Center is back in the works. The Community Redevelopment Board decided Tuesday to reopen the process to convert the empty Creswell House, located next to the Library, into a visitors information hub.  The move came at the request of the newly elected Chamber of Commerce President Tina Ryan and the Board of Directors.  “As you may remember, in years past the Chamber worked hand-in-hand with the City when the City housed us in the old library. But since moving to the current location, that bond has somewhat split,” Ryan said. “We are here tonight to bring the Chamber back to a strong partnership with the City again.”   Last year, the City sent out Request for Proposals, expecting the Chamber to submit a plan for the envisioned Welcome Center. “When we went through this last time, the Chamber didn’t respond to the request,” said CRA director Greg Lang. “We closed the process without moving it forward.”  Because the property was purchased with CRA dollars and belongs to the City, there is a  specific legal process that must be followed before allowing the Chamber to move in, Lang said. A new RFP must be advertised. The Chamber, along with any other interested organization, will then be able to submit a proposal.  “We request that the commission…gives the Chamber of Commerce due consideration when our proposal response is submitted,” Ryan said. “The Development of a new Welcome Center at the Creswell house would be just the start of a Citywide partnering project to provide our visitors with information and support to help them take advantage of the businesses and attractions our area has to offer.” Ryan told the City some of the other goals that the new Chamber is pursuing, including hosting workshops with local business leaders to develop new programs, and developing welcome packages for visitors and press packages for media representatives. The Chamber is also redeveloping its We site “for higher market visibility and accountability to our members,” Ryan said. It is also working to have a continually updated, full calendar of local events. “These are just a few of the exciting plans in the works,” Ryan said.