The chamber is looking at bringing in undercover consultants from out of town who will eat, stay, shop and observe throughout mainly the West Monroe and West Ouachita area over a period of days-- a project chamber officials say it's the first of it's kind to come to the ArkLaMiss.
"If you were moving here, visiting, or establishing a business here, what would your first impression be on this community?" said Courtney Hornsby, president of the West Monroe Chamber of Commerce.
And that's exactly what the undercover consultants will help find the answers to.
The team consists of community and economic developers, who will travel to West Ouachita Parish as secret shoppers. They will look at everything from parks, retail, restaurants -- even road signs, the police station and housing offices -- to gauge the community on simply, first impressions.
"Places that you might visit if you were a tourist, stopping at local restaurants to eat, dining, shopping in different places such as Antique Alley," said Hornsby.
The secret shoppers will individually explore the area separate from each other.
"Each night they'll gather as a team and form an assessment of what they saw, then decide where to go from there the next day," said Hornsby.
When they're done, the team will create a report they'll present to the chamber and community, highlighting stregnths and tips on improvement. The team will even offer grant opportunities for businesses.
"Sometimes when you live here or work here all the time, you take for granted some of the things that are here," said Hornsby. "Bringing in a pair of fresh eyes offers a new perspective and a new insight into your community."
The undercover consultants could be from Louisiana but will not from be from Ouachita Parish - or enough to be familiar with it.
So far, the chamber has found partners -- including the city of West Monroe and the Ouachita Parish Police Jury -- to help cover the cost of the project, totaling $6,500. The chamber is also working a couple of more partners expressing interest in the project.
Hornsby says she's confident the project will go through. Shoppers might come in the first quarter of 2013.
"They really won't tell anybody because they want as honest an assessment as possible of the community," she said.
Hornsby added the consultants will not come on any holidays or weekends, just on a random, typical day of business.
"It's an opportunity for all of us to take a reall hard look at ourselves and offer way that we can open up the best doors that we can and be as welcome as we can to visitors in this area," said Hornsby.