Jeff Meredith, chamber executive director, encouraged each table of attendees to discuss how to gain more customers and define their current needs.
"Small business drives Monett," said Bob Markovics, chamber vice president. "If it wasn't for the small businesses, Monett would be struggling."
Business leaders suggested efforts emphasizing supporting local merchants first. They were interested in seeing more promotions that bring people to town as their first shopping stop. Emphasizing Monett's attractions, such as the YMCA, and using a relocation packet to promote local services was encouraged.
Markovics said the Main Street effort is promoting wayward signs to direct motorists to downtown. Opportunities such a grants to fix store fronts are among the behind-the-scenes efforts being made.
"Monett has done very well in one of the worst economics in 75 years," Markovics said. "We are on the front side of the wave of the next opportunity."
Concern was voiced about bigger magnets, such as attracting more diverse industry. One observer said some businesses are hiring the unhireable because of a lack of qualified workers.
"There's not a lot of fun here," another observer said.
Markovics said the lack of a college campus makes a difference to restaurants looking at Monett as a marketplace. He added the size of Monett's hospital, in light of an incident involving 100 people, would necessitate the need to send patients to other facilities.
Meredith asked the group to address what the chamber could do to help. Several said a promotional campaign emphasizing what Monett has to offer would help. A more detailed Internet presence could help searchers discover where to find what they want in Monett.
A search engine under development by the Main Street program will focus at least on downtown opportunities, one of the Main Street committee members reported.
John Bruner with Bruner Pharmacy said the chamber needed to leave missions like economic development to the city and the Monett Industrial Development Corporation. The chamber then could focus on promoting Monett.
There was a general desire to educate the public, and even for businesses to network with each other. Few existing networks even within larger employers could be identified. One observer suggested sending an exploratory search to Clinton, a town similar in size to Monett, which has shown more economic success in recent years to find out their strategy.
"People want to talk about how to help and how to support one another," said Dan Crouch, with the MDC Tech Group. "It's not just selling. We must get above the commercial mind set. It's about supporting the community."
Meredith got several volunteers to help organize a promotional campaign. One suggested finding a promotional jingle that could be quickly identified as Monett's calling card.
A future luncheon meeting would be scheduled to move the project forward, Meredith said.