Indiantown Chamber of Commerce Turns 55

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INDIANTOWN – Turing 55 holds many reasons for celebration. However, when a business cruises by the half-century mark in a community it holds honorable mention. This week, the Indiantown Chamber of Commerce sailed by the numbered marker, continuing its journey to make Indiantown a better place to live and work.

Denise Lechner, Chamber of Commerce president, said economic development, industry and jobs had always been their focus, and that wasn’t about to change. She said that the COVID-19 crisis had presented challenges and instituted putting a lot of things on hold. However, they were willing to try new things, take risks, and reinvent themselves to help the community. One such event was the introduction of a swamp buggy show during 2021 that helped community interaction and business support.

Lechner emphasized that since its inception in 1966, the Chamber desired to “serve” and “fill the needs of the community.” She continued that without a city government at the time, a vacuum for business, economic and residential growth existed across the unincorporated rural area. That’s when a group of local business owners started the Indiantown-Western Martin County Chamber of Commerce.

In the late 60s’, Indiantown was nearing 2,000 residents, having grown from its earliest beginnings as a Seminole Indian trading post. The growth was partially due to Davies Warfield’s influence laying out city streets, constructing the Seminole Inn and bringing the Seaboard Airline Railways to town during the 1920s.

Brian Powers, a former Chamber of Commerce president and son of its first president, Timer Powers, related how original members banded together as “the local voice for business.

“They were representatives for Indiantown, when necessary, at Martin County meetings,” Powers said. He continued that the chamber worked toward attracting businesses to Indiantown. Like Lechner, he too said economic opportunity and development were the focus, both then and now. According to Powers original members, Jack Robinson, owner of the telephone and water companies, Homer Wall, owner of the lumber yard, Jim Rines, owner of the grocery store, Paul Siefker, owner of a construction company and Timer Powers, owner of the gas company worked tirelessly advocating for the community’s success.

Powers highlighted some of their impact over the past 55 years. Several large industrial businesses are to their credit, such as the Florida Steel Mill in 1970, Caulkins Citrus in 1972, the Florida Power and Light (FPL) facility in 1976, then in the 1990s’ the FPL Co-Generation plant, as well as widening of the highway through Indiantown. He pointed out that when it became clear business entities were interested in Indiantown, the chamber went about finding out how they could “help the business be successful.”

Powers said, “They’re active in helping get the needs met.” He continued that the Christmas parade and community clean-ups were examples of their ongoing efforts of working toward a flourishing community. “It wouldn’t get done without someone rolling up their sleeves. They are a good advocate for the community,” he said. “They have evolved with the times and that is to their credit.”

Lechner said to start with, the chamber was “a visitor hub for new residents and businesses coming to Indiantown,” primarily due to the lack of a city government. She pointed out “jobs, additional services” for the citizens had always been the thrust. “Networking together, more education opportunities, helping build and grow businesses, and marketing Indiantown to residents, agriculture and retail,” and “partnering with the Village Council” to focus on “smart growth” were Lechner’s forecasts for the future. She stressed the desire to keep the “smaller community” flavor while promoting exceptional quality of life to residents and businesses alike.

Today, Indiantown has grown substantially over the last decade. The population has increased above 7,000. Lechner said the lack of homes had presented challenges but reemphasized the chamber’s partnership with the Village Council to create a comprehensive plan with balanced, smart growth for the area.

She added that the chamber’s involvement within the community takes on the form of events. The annual rodeo, the Christmas parade, Denim and Diamonds: Nicholas Batchelor memorial scholarship gala, which is Aug. 27, and other fundraising events, play a significant role in supporting and helping local businesses. She said volunteers were welcomed at the chamber. Lechner concluded that “knowing your neighbor” and the rural flavor was important to Indiantown residents, and the Chamber would remain committed to those they serve, the local community.

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