WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) -The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce is working with people who would like to start up their own businesses.
Starting your own business is a big risk that's for sure. But in downtown Walnut Ridge they are giving you a chance to achieve your dreams.
The program is called "Invest in Your Dreams" and is designed for startups to invest money in preparing their business location and benefiting from reduced rent for a designated period of time.
Mike Montgomery the President of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce says, "We're trying to pull in people that would like to be an investor. It's kind of a co-investor project."
"Invest in Your Dreams" is actually a fairly simple concept. Coordinated by the chamber it allows new business owners a reduced rate in rent for several years in exchange for what improvements the tenant makes in the building.
Charles Snapp owns several buildings in downtown. He gave up 2 buildings for the new Beatles monument and hopes to find tenants for several others.
Snapp, "With an investment in the building, most people are going to work harder to see that business flows like it should and be successful. That's the whole idea. We wanted to do something with it to help improve the economy Walnut Ridge, create a few jobs and increase the sales tax base."
Snapp is preparing one Main Street building for a new arts and crafts store. The work going on is typical of what a new tenant could do as part of their investment.
Snapp, "Changing out the electricity putting in new plumbing . Bringing everything up to grade. The buildings are 80 to 90 years old. " The insides pretty much have been gutted but structurally they are quite sound.
The first of the "Dreams" projects will be an upscale yogurt shop owned by Danny West. West says his plan is really twofold.
West, "There's a need for summer jobs and I just thought it was a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the traffic we hope to have." West says he has always loved ice cream and the new trend in soft serve yogurt really appeals to him. West owns a metal fabrication shop located at the Walnut Ridge Airport and intends to create his own lighting fixtures, and art that will be displayed and perhaps sold at the yogurt shop. West is also creating the Beatles sculpture which will be revealed in 11 days.
Of course making money is the point of having any business and West says he hopes to draw in customers who come to see the new Beatles sculpture to his new yogurt store which will be right next door.
West, "That's what we're trying to do here is to bring some style back to Walnut Ridge. And give people a reason to walk the streets. And when they walk the streets they are going to do things like stop in and get some Mexican food or buy some frozen yogurt or get a soda. That type of thing."
Mike Montgomery, "It's Economic Development through tourism. There's a lot of different ways to do it. We felt like we had to break the mold. Find some separation, we can't be like every small town in Arkansas. This is one way of doing it, guerilla marketing at it's best."
For more information you can e-mail the chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org