Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories selected by the staff of The Commercial as the Top 10 local news stories of 2011.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories selected by the staff of The Commercial as the Top 10 local news stories of 2011.

The Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce became the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce during its 100th anniversary celebration in 2011 as part of the organization’s commitment to expanding economic opportunity throughout Southeast Arkansas.

The Chamber marked its actual centenary on Sept. 22.

“There is much talk these days about regionalism,” said Chris Hart, incoming Chamber chairman and Central Moloney Inc. vice president for personnel and community relations. “Groups of people, cities, or counties banding together to support a common goal: Making a better quality of life. There have been several name changes for the Pine Bluff Chamber during its first 100 years. As we begin a new century of service, we wanted to have a name that echoes our membership, scope and vision. We have Chamber member businesses in many surrounding counties, and Pine Bluff is the largest city in Southeast Arkansas. Economic development in our community ripples outward all across the region, and vice versa.”

Chamber Co-Director Ann Williams points to the organization’s efforts to reach out into the community at large in its centennial year as a major positive force in Pine Bluff.

“I have been with the Chamber for 12 years but this year there is a totally different aura. There is something in the air and you can tell that something is going on,” Williams said. “Community reaction to our downtown events, including the UAPB pep rally and outdoor membership event earlier this year, has been strong. We have had people ride by our offices on Main Street all day long who did not know what was happening here. A lot of those people who had not stopped by are doing so now. There has been an amazing response from the community and we have been getting a lot of positive feedback.

“We don’t want to be a well-kept secret. We want people to know what’s going on and to bring attention to downtown Pine Bluff,” Williams said.

Kaleybra Morehead, current Chamber chair and Southeast Arkansas College vice president of College Affairs/Advancement, is proud to be part of the organization.

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with such exceptional individuals as can be found on the Chamber of Commerce staff,” Morehead said. “The Chamber is committed to establishing Pine Bluff and Jefferson County as a world-class business community.”