Merchant group forms for West Marion business leaders

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

With the idea of supporting one another for marketing purposes as well as welcoming new businesses to the area, a group of local merchants has formed the West Marion Business Association.

Still in the early stages of organization, a goal-setting meeting was held last week to brainstorm how the association could benefit members.

Among the ideas was to provide a venue for networking, to raise customer knowledge of businesses, and to combine efforts for creative marketing.

Over the last few months the Association has held two “merchant mixers,” where they set up tables outside a business and handed out “goody bags” to passers-by.

At the most recent mixer, in conjunction with an Alltel Wireless Customer Appreciation event, 17 local businesses were represented.

Ray Sargent, manager of the Mercantile Bank-West Ocala branch was pleased with the turnout. He noted that those in attendance liked that the event was held at a business.

Organizers stressed that the group is not trying to duplicate services of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce but by being more local, provide more one-on-one connections.

Local business owners and managers are invited to attend a kick-off meeting Tuesday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office-Southwest District on S.R. 200.

For more information, email Tricia Marks at tmarks@smcitizen.com or Ray Sargent at raymond.sargent@mercantile.com.