The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce is making a renewed effort to focus on new and existing retail businesses, and recently launched a new retail committee to focus on new initiatives for growth and sustainability.

Spearheaded and chaired by Cullman Economic Development Agency retail recruiter Susie Hood Ashley, the new eight-person committee hopes to unite business owners in an attempt to teach and learn from one another.

“It came together while they were restructuring the Chamber, and determining which committees could be combined, and we put together an overview for what we could focus on,” she said. “Some new business owners might not have as much exposure to resources, while some older businesses might not be as savvy as far as social media. So, we thought why not put the old and new together, and let them teach each other from experience?”

Ashley said the new committee will take a community-centric approach, and will attempt to impact the business community as a whole — not just Chamber members.

“It’s not about feeling like the guy next door to you is your competitor,” she said. “We’re looking to try some things like combining marketing dollars, having mystery shoppers for feedback, group advertising, and a new shop local campaign. It’s about the community, not about the business. If everyone would help each other out and share knowledge, and failures, that just makes us all stronger.”

The committee’s first event is an identity theft seminar to show business owners how to protect their information, as well as their customers’ information. The seminar is set for June 13, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., with Fox 6 anchor Jonathan Hardison and Bank Card Services representative Jarrod Boyd as the featured speakers.

“That’s a very hot topic right now, and it was something we wanted to focus on to make sure business owners know how to protect themselves,” Ashley said.

The seminar is free to Chamber members, and $10 for non-members. To RSVP, contact Jackie Moore at 256-734-0454.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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