by Ebony Davis , Dothan Eagle
Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dean Mitchell handed chamber board chairman Hope Johnson a heavy, white binder on Wednesday that appeared to contain hundreds of pages.
Johnson said the pages outlined the chamber’s most recent national accomplishment. After a comprehensive look at the chamber’s total operations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded Dothan’s chamber a five-star accreditation.
The recognition puts the Dothan chamber in the top four percent of the estimated 7,000 chambers of commerce nationwide. In Alabama, only Dothan and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce currently have the designation.
“For the past year, countless hours have gone into documenting nine areas of strength (at the Dothan chamber),” Johnson said during a press conference on Wednesday. “The results speak volumes about our organization and particularly about our staff.”
According to Ali Ehrlich, the national chamber of commerce’s director of operations in political affairs and federation relations, the five-star designation involves a voluntary procedure in which nine areas of strength or best practices are considered in matters such as finance, government affairs, program development and communication.
She said notable accomplishments at Dothan’s chamber were its partnership with the Wiregrass Foundation for training, its collaboration on economic development strategies with the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, and its development of Grow Dothan, the chamber’s private funding venture.
Ehrlich said Dothan’s chamber not only has sound financial practices but is also a strong advocate for the business community. The Dothan chamber’s previous designation was four stars, which Ehrlich said indicates the chamber is on a path of continuous improvements.
Ehrlich said the recent accreditation is good for five years.
“This is a testament to the board but also to the volunteers of the chamber,” Ehrlich said.
“Anyone who is a member (of the Dothan chamber) should rest comfortably knowing they have a chamber they can go to for economic development, programming and advocacy.”
Some of the best practices the U.S. Chamber of Commerce includes on its website include governance, finance, human resources and staff, government affairs, program development, technology, communication and facilities.
Dothan Chamber President Matt Parker said the five-star designation is a large accomplishment in the history of the chamber.
“We know it sets a standard, so this is a proud day in our history,” he said.