Listen, friends, when society starts throwing around blanket definitions of which roles are “essential,” although we can understand the meaning in this context, I think everyone starts considering their value a little.
A Chamber of Commerce is a unique thing. Many people think we are a city, probably tax funded, entity. Not true. Many people think we are a marketing agency. Not true, although we do provide marketing services. Many people think we are Downtown event planners. Not in our job descriptions, although we do believe our community is enriched by having regular activities to enjoy.
At the United Regional Chamber, we heavily consider ourselves to be customer service professionals. We exist to serve our business members, school districts, individual members, non profit partners, and the residents and visitors of our communities.
We provide word of mouth referrals on a daily basis. We manage a social media presence with broad reach. We create networking connections and new partnerships. We help your granddad find the phone number he didn’t find in the yellow pages. We help high school kids navigate the steps of their community service project. We mail visitor packets out of state to people who are interested in relocating here, and we encourage them to stay in our local hotels and order our favorite menu items from local restaurants.
We help newcomers settle in by giving them useful resources accompanied by a sincere warm welcome to the community. We are an information hub.
We work closely with city leaders, local merchants, State agencies, Small Business Development Centers and more to stay in the know of things that could benefit or damage our communities. We are in a constant state of event planning, and are regularly brainstorming new things for families to do– because the truth is, if nobody enjoys living in and visiting our communities, our businesses will not thrive the way we want to see them thrive.
If you ask us “what’s the point of joining the Chamber” we can rattle off a list of things we will do for you/your business, and I will explain that in some ways, we are like a gym membership– the more ways you choose to use your membership, the more benefit you will see. No two people will use the exact same combination of equipment, because we recognize that different members are seeking different results. Overall, like a gym, a Chamber cultivates a healthier community.
A Chamber is many things. We are flexible and ever evolving, because that’s what it takes to be forward thinking and relevant. We offer a mix of tangible benefits and intangible benefits to our members, but a vibrant Chamber is GOOD for a vibrant community.
Before you dismiss a Chamber of commerce as non-essential for your business, please consider that Chambers are essential for community. Supporting your chamber is doing something for yourself– helping to build the quality of life in the communities where you live, work and play.