AIKEN -The way Steve Floyd sees it, the chamber of commerce is the first place that people go when they're looking to move to a new area.
That's why he recently contributed $5,000 to sponsor a room in a 5,000-square-foot office and visitors center to be built next year by the Aiken Chamber of Commerce.
The center will be located on a half acre at 105 Richland Ave., the former site of Jimbo's Gas N' Goodies, and an adjoining half-acre lot owned by BP Oil Co.
"I believe in our chamber of commerce more than anything else in the area," said Mr. Floyd, owner of Floyd and Greene Fine Jewelers, on Friday. "I want to make sure they have everything they need."
The contribution was one of the first made to a fund-raiser kicked off Wednesday to raise money from chamber members for the new building.
Members can donate between $5,000 and $50,000 to sponsor rooms in the new building. They can also contribute other items such as kitchen equipment, artwork or tables.
The Aiken chamber has 700 members.
Doug Henderson, chamber chairman, estimated the costs of the project at $800,000. The chamber is expecting to receive $500,000 from Aiken 20/20, a public/private partnership that gives money for city improvement projects.
The chamber also expects to make $135,000 from the sale of its existing building at 400 Laurens St. N.W., said Tom Abbott, chairman of the fund-raiser.
Mr. Abbott said he hopes to raise between $250,000 and $300,000 over the next several months through the fund-raiser to cover total project costs.
"We're counting on all of the membership to participate," he said. "This additional space will allow us to expand our promotion of Aiken and increase the economic benefits of the tourism and retirement industries of our area."