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Fledgling Branson business development group names leader

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Former Akers & Arney salesman Jonas Arjes was appointed Wednesday as director of the month-old Taney County Business Development Partnership.

The group formed in December with board members from Taney County, Kirbyville, Merriam Woods and the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Bethany Thomas, senior vice president of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB, said yesterday that talk had been circulating for the partnership since mid-2011.

So far, the partners have raised roughly $100,000 to foster the business climate in Taney County, and Thomas said the goal is to hit at least $150,000 during the first year. Private entities have given verbal support, and Thomas said they would likely help fund the partnership as well.

"The partnership is for business development. This is about retention of existing business - not turning our back on tourism - but largely focusing on diversifying the economy here in Taney County," she said. "So far, we've had a lot of interest."

How the partnership will specifically aid businesses in the area has yet to be determined, as the advisory board hasn't met formally. Thomas said it would likely meet by the end of January.

With the new position, Arjes, who had worked for the Branson-based insurance firm since 2007, is charged with new business development and retention and expansion of existing businesses within Taney County. The director of business development position is the partnership's only permanent job.

Arjes had been selected to serve as chairman of the board of directors of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB for 2012, but that appointment has been cancelled with his selection for the business partnership.

“In selecting Jonas for this position, we knew we were losing a great leader, but this is the best decision for our community,” said Ross Summers, president and CEO of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB, in the release. "His active involvement in many committees and activities over the years throughout the area, and his dedication to many chamber efforts, helped us realize he could be of greater benefit to the entire community in this capacity.”

Janet Oller, director of marketing for Silver Dollar City and the chamber board's chairwoman-elect for 2013, will instead assume the position of chairwoman for 2012.[[In-content Ad]]

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