Longtime Maumelle resident and veteran advertising and public relations executive Al Canelli has been chosen to lead the Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce for the next year. For Canelli, who served as chamber president in 2004-2005, it’s his second time around in less than ten years.

And he said he hopes to use that experience to hit the ground running and to crank up the chamber involvement to new levels.

A former longtime sales executive at KATV-TV, Channel 7 in Little Rock, Canelli has widespread experience in the media, advertising and in promotions and public relations.

He has owned his own advertising agency for several years after leaving the broadcast business. It was located on Cantrell Road in Little Rock but he moved its operation to Maumelle a few years ago, about the same time his wife, Joanne retired as sales manager at KTHV-TV, a Gannett TV station in Little Rock.

She has more years experience in advertising sales having not only been sales manager at KTHV-TV but she helped get KLRT-TV, FOX 16 off the ground as its first sales manager. Even though she’s retired, Al said she still does free-lance media buying for several large clients.

Many Maumelle residents are eager to see what 2012 has in store for the chamber under Canelli’s leadership. He has a long track record of successfully promoting projects, programs and businesses.

One of the first items on the agenda is a trade area survey, Canelli said. It will take a look at where the retail and restaurant business in Maumelle is originating. He said he thinks residents will be surprised how much comes from outside of Maumelle’s city limits.

He said the chamber will be working with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to conduct the research similar but more professional that a smaller project two years ago.

This research will piggyback on the strategic planning the city is currently involved with, Canelli said.

Obviously, we’re short in the retail sector and we’ll be taking a look at what we can do to encourage more retail establishments within our city, he said.

Also one of the first things Canelli said he hoped to do was to broaden the chamber memberships. He noted there’s a large group of Maumelle residents who are in their 30’s and serve as top executives for major corporations in Little Rock and Conway.

This city is as much their home as ours and we want their input, involvement and expertise, he said. He urged those young professionals and leaders to become involved in their community.

We know they’re busy, he said, but if they can just help out with one project, or share one suggestion, idea or get involved on a limited basis, we can all work together to make Maumelle an even greater place to live than it already is.

He led the research effort a few years back when Maumelle considered starting an Advertising and Promotions Commission and levying a small "hamburger tax" fee on hotel and motel sales. At the time most civic leaders were opposed to adding the percentage to restaurant sales although North Little Rock and every other major city within Pulaski County does so.

Several aldermen have noted that Maumelle residents are currently paying the hamburger tax at North Little Rock restaurants located on Maumelle Boulevard without complaint.

Canelli said he isn’t promoting another run at the commission and he was just doing the research for the city a few years ago. He said that’s a decision for city fathers to make.

Both Canelli’s are go getters and some chamber members said they look forward to seeing what the chamber can do this year.

Canelli praised outgoing president Adam Henderson, manger of the Maumelle branch for U.S. Bank for his leadership and the growth the chamber has seen this year. He said Henderson will still be around on the Chamber board and he looks forward to working with him.

A native of Omaha, Canelli said he came to this area by way of Dallas and first arrived on the scene as advertising manager for National Investors Life Insurance Company — which many residents will remember for its management’s role in the formation of Maumelle.

It was in that position that he and his wife became members of the Maumelle Country Club, more than 25 years ago and when he first fell in love with the community. He and Joanne moved to their current home near the country club in 2002.

If you want to get involved in your home town’s chamber, give me a call or call the chamber office. We want your help, Canelli said.