by Caroline Gabsewics
Beginning Jan. 15, the Downtown Council of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce will be holding its meetings at the University Club.
For more than seven years, the Downtown Council has held its morning breakfast meetings on the first and third Friday of each month at the River City Brewing Company.
But due to financial reasons, the Downtown Council had to move its meeting to another Downtown meeting location, said Jim Love, president of the Downtown Council.
“We knew about the River City Brewing Company’s price increase about a month ago,” he said. “We found out the amount of the increase three weeks ago and that got us looking.”
Love said the price doubled, as the River City Brewing Company was operating the meetings at a loss.
“They were kind enough to operate at a loss for us,” he said. “We appreciated our time there and we left on good terms. It just didn’t work out.”
Love added that the Downtown Council meetings have changed locations three or four times since the first Downtown Council meeting in 1991.
Love and a few of the Council’s board members began looking for a new place to hold the Downtown Council meetings. In the end, it came down to four places they were interested in.
“It wasn’t hard to find a new place, but we wanted a combination of good location, good food and good parking,” he said. “But that’s a pretty tall order for Downtown.”
Some locations had one of the three combinations. Love said some places wanted $5 to park in their parking lot. Another wanted $40 to use their microphone at each meeting.
“We just needed to find the right combination,” he said. “And we found the University Club met all of that.”
The only thing the University Club could not offer was the Council’s regular Friday morning meeting times, because another club already meets at that time. Instead of meeting at 7:30 a.m. on the first and third Friday of each month, the Downtown Council will meet at 7:30 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month.
There was also a price change that was announced a few weeks ago. Meetings now cost $15 for members and $20 for non-members, up from $10 and $12.
“We were losing money before, but now we are breaking even at the University Club,” he said.
Parking is being offered in the parking lot in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel for $1. Love admitted the parking is not as easy as the River City Brewing Company, but it was the cheapest, he said.
“We are going to try out the new location and see how it works,” he said. “I think most people will enjoy it.”
When it was announced that the meeting would be moving to the University Club and changed from Friday mornings to Tuesday mornings, Love said there were some mixed reactions.
“Some were really happy about the move and others were unhappy,” he said. “But many understood the reasons why we could no longer have the meetings at the River City Brewing Company.”
Love added this new location will also allow the Council to encourage more businesses in the Riverplace Tower (where the University Club is located) to join the 300-member Downtown Council, because it is so convenient.
“We will try it out and see how it works. It is a wonderful view at the top and it may encourage more people to join and it may help bring in better speakers,” said Love. “You never know until you try.”
To become a member of the Downtown Council, call Joanne Leigh, senior account manager for the Downtown Council, at 366-6679. Those interested in becoming a member may also join at the meetings.