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Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomes guests to the 40th Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Red Bank Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is being rebranded as the Red Bank/Signal Mountain Council in an effort to be more inclusive of the businesses in the mountain town, which are all part of the council's footprint.

Dr. Corey Idrogo, council president until the leadership changes hands in July, said the chamber has included Signal Mountain in the Red Bank Council's footprint for the last couple of years, because there are not enough businesses in Signal Mountain for the town to sustain its own council.

"In order to include them more, we thought it fitting to have their name added," Idrogo said. "The stronger we are, the better involvement we have and the more we benefit the community."

The name change also helps spread awareness among Signal Mountain businesses that they are included in the council's footprint and it can serve as a resource for their promotion, which the town has lacked since the Mountain Business Association became inactive at the end of last year.

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Mountain Top Toys owner Patrick Holland displays Squishables' line of plush toys in comfort food shapes. Mountain Top is the only store in the area that carries Squishables, he said.

Former Mountain Business Association President Patrick Holland, owner of Mountain Top Toys, informed members last October that he would not be returning as president, citing time restrictions following his purchase last year of Learning Express Toys in North Chattanooga. When no one else stepped up to fill the role, the association became inactive at the end of the calendar year, Holland said.

The Sunday on Signal event, held on the mountain at the start of the holiday shopping season for more than 30 years, and previously organized by the Mountain Business Association, will continue this year despite the inactivity of the association, he said.

"To me, it's a great alternative for businesses on the mountain to join," Holland said of the Red Bank/Signal Mountain Chamber Council, adding that one of its main benefits is being part of the larger Chattanooga Chamber, which allows members to attend the meetings of any of its 12 councils: Downtown, East Brainerd, East Ridge, Enterprise Gateway, Hixson, International Business, midTown, North Chattanooga, North Hamilton County, Ooltewah/Collegedale, Red Bank/Signal Mountain and Southside.

One drawback, Holland continued, is the cost. Annual dues for the Mountain Business Association were $120, while, depending on the size of the business, annual dues for the Chattanooga Chamber can be more than $300, he said.

Idrogo said the council has a few ideas of ways the chamber can benefit mountain businesses, such as planning a "Taste of Signal" event featuring restaurants on the mountain, and helping to promote the town's centennial coming up in 2019. He said his chiropractic office on Dayton Boulevard, Centered Health and Wellness, draws many of its clients from Signal Mountain, and he patronizes Signal businesses when he goes up the mountain to enjoy the town's hiking trails. His goal is for the council to promote both areas as destinations where people can enjoy recreational and natural resources as well as find unique local restaurants, shops and services.

Dr. Ronal Smith, a counselor at Signal Counseling Center in Signal Mountain who will become president-elect of the Red Bank/Signal Mountain Council in July, said the new leadership is just beginning to make plans for the coming year.

"The goal is to get as many businesses involved with the Red Bank/Signal Mountain Council as possible in the next year or so," said Smith, adding that they are looking at ways to bring traffic from Red Bank up the mountain.

The Red Bank/Signal Mountain Chamber Council meets the third Tuesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at Red Bank Community Center, 3620 Tom Weathers Drive. The cost for lunch is $10.

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