Facilitating growth & empowering dreams
“Living the dream” is a saying a friend of mine at the hospital uses a lot. It makes you smile, but it always makes me think how lucky we are. It’s not yet 7 a.m. but at my work (Capital Region Medical Center) and back at the farm I left before dawn things were already in the works for another busy day. It’s like that across the area; 24/7/365 there are staff and leaders serving others, creating products, meeting the needs of the community. Our job at the Chamber is to look ahead, facilitate the growth and support the organizations that provide the economic engine power for the area. Recently, the Chamber’s Board of Directors took some time to talk about current projects and future topics and I’d like to share some insight.
First imagine yourself at the LINC, sitting in a nice glass walled room a couple stories up, looking out over the LU stadium (currently being updated) and watching track and field athletes do warm ups and practice runs. Quite frankly, while we did watch the athletes during the break, the Board of Directors, who represent a number of different types and sizes of business/organizations, focused their attention on the project updates and giving good feedback to the subgroups that were reporting on progress.
Membership Team started us off with updates in the areas of recruitment of new members (Leslie Tanner), Retention of existing members (Jason Cecil), Non-dues Revenue (Jason Schwartz) and Return on Investment (Spencer Allen). This team (led by Darren Heckman), has taken the concept of a yearly membership drive to a different level where the importance of our members and the value of their membership is a yearlong focus. New businesses and new leaders at businesses occur every week, we shouldn’t wait for a yearly campaign to get them involved. While we’ve always had some year round focus, we are trying harder to integrate the new member into Chamber events and make them feel welcome through the efforts of this team. For our existing members, getting a good value for your dollar is important and I encourage every member to use the events/programs to network with others, build relationships, and learn about common business problems (and solutions). I just peeked at the June Calendar of Events and there are over a dozen opportunities to connect. Personally, I need to go to the Social Media forum and learn a lot more about the power of social media for “positive and purposeful messaging”. If I knew how to do that I’d give a shout out to the local baseball teams and their success. (Yea to Michael #13 on the Jay’s team for his great infield work!)
Back to business. We also took a preview look at the Chamber’s new website which arrives this summer, and discussed the opportunities that the MSP site transfer (from the State) will bring. Developing an agreement with the State that outlines the expectations regarding the acquisition is next on this project. Nestled in the heart of the city with frontage on the river, this is an opportunity awaiting infrastructure and design to entice new retail, lodging and or entertainment destinations which support an even more vibrant Capital City experience.
Speaking of experiences, we also did the virtual tour of the Riverfront Access Project and it looks amazing. Still in the stage of accepting private donations, the design concepts around those sponsorships will help to make this not just an exercise good for your heart, but an educational and historical experience. We updated the group on some of the activities of the Work Force Action team and their efforts to create linkages between the high school graduate and the growing number of options for employment cited by our members. Like Membership, the Work Force Action team also sees their programs in the areas of recruiting workforce, educating counselors on the opportunities and preparing the graduate for the full time employment as yearlong efforts.
The Cyber Security project continues to develop some traction as we identify how we can link Missouri businesses, state/local government and educational institutions into this membership business model. There is nary a business (or individual) who hasn’t spent some time wondering how safe their info is, no matter if it is residing on your desktop PC, a server, a virtual server, in the cloud, etc. Enhanced protections and a more informed workforce in the area of cybersecurity just make good business sense.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent educating ourselves about the concepts of a Retail Development strategy. We listened to a retail development specialist who broadened our vision of what is defined as “retail” (it includes grocery stores and dining), how national brands source locations, and what issues hold a community from enticing new retail to its market.
Serving as the Chamber chair is a great journey and there is no better time to be part of seeing solutions come to the table and opportunities for individual leaders to play a part. As always, thanks to those who volunteer their time (and great minds) to strong solutions and “empowering the dreams”.