NEOSHO, Mo. —
Neosho city and chamber of commerce officials met Friday to announce a thaw in what had become an icy relationship.
Eric Norris, president of the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, said he didn’t think the relationship had been damaged.
“Today is about the relationship moving forward,” Norris said. “We’ve reached out to the city. We’re looking for partnerships.”
Norris said the chamber was in “uncharted territory” after the death of Gib Garrow, who handled economic development for the chamber. He said after the meeting that the chamber’s economic development activity has been spun off to the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation, and the organizations are more segregated now.
Mayor Richard Davidson said until recently, he hadn’t seen a desire to work with the city when the city has made offers to help on projects. He said he’s pleased about the change. He said the city’s funds can be spent on chamber projects that help to promote Neosho and tourism.
“It’s the right thing to do for Neosho,” Davidson said.
He said recent conversations have been positive.
“The conversations were focused on how we can work together,” Davidson said. “We found a way to make this happen.”
City Councilman Charles Collinsworth said the city had been “dinged” on a 2010 state audit because of city funds going to chamber activities. He said chamber officials have assured city officials of better transparency and tracking.
“We had a hard time running down money that had gone to the chamber,” Collinsworth said of the situation in 2010.
“I appreciate you guys reaching out and I hope it’s the start of something really, really good,” Collinsworth said.
Resident Gene Franklin attended the meeting and said it was good to see city and chamber officials pledging to work together after there had been discouraging times.
“This is very encouraging,” Franklin said. “There’s no room for infighting among us. We all live in this town together.”