Chamber CEO: Commitment to a group effort
For me, this year started off right when my Philadelphia Eagles finally raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy and gave fans like me an opportunity to savor the underdog victory long past the Super Bowl. I suspect that’s why Vince Lombardi’s enduring quote on teamwork kept grabbing my attention this year: “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
As the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s CEO I think a lot about business and community and how we can use our shared interests to strengthen business in the valley. It starts with an individual commitment.
The Chamber is a great example of an organization created by individual commitments for a collective effort. Individual business owners, employees and community leaders, through membership and active participation, guide the Chamber in making our business community thrive.
With membership comes credibility. Credibility that says your business is strong, successful and invested in the community. Yet strictly looking at the bottom line, Chamber membership brings returns via three main avenues: new business, more business and advocacy.
New business comes in the form of referrals as the Chamber is the go-to source for recommendations for local residents, new residents and visitors. Our website connects people to the information they are looking for with more than 575,000 website visits and 1.5 million page views annually. Beyond digital, our staff answers hundreds of phone calls per week and more than 18,000 people walked through our front door in 2017. We referred them to our members, including banks, activities, restaurants and health care providers, to name a few.
We also cultivate new business for Chamber members with marketing support, ribbon cuttings, networking events and other activities that expand a business owner’s reach in the community and beyond. This is critical for new businesses as they get started in our community and begin to thrive.
More business comes through our Buy Local campaigns and Chamber gift cards that keep dollars in the community and in member businesses, local marketing efforts and educational programing. Our members requested more training and that’s why we have developed educational programing that is designed to meet businesses’ needs. It’s critical that business owners are informed about upcoming policy changes, economic trends, visitation statistics and other conversations that will impact their businesses. The Chamber collects that information, distills it down and then shares it with members through Chamber Insight, lodging reports and Monday Minute.
Our collective advocacy efforts help improve the local business climate. Based on feedback from our members, we have renewed our focus on business advocacy in 2018 and the charge is being led not only by staff, but a group of committed leaders of the Economic Development Council. Improving broadband infrastructure, funding for our highways, a strong air service program, child care, education and other key issues that support business growth are all reasons why we organize this group effort. Together, as a united front, we are stronger when at the table advocating for business interests across our community.
People do business with people they know. That’s why the Chamber facilitates real-world networking opportunities beyond Facebook and LinkedIn so our members can gain genuine member-to-member referrals. Relationships help build business, and our programs like Beers with Peers, Corks and Connections, Cocktails and Connections and Chamber Mixers bring people in our community together.
In 2018 we’ve hosted nine events and have more in the works. Just last week we held a mixer at Bank of the San Juans with eleven presenting businesses and more than 100 people in attendance to learn about those businesses, network and enjoy food and drinks with other locals. Networking events take place every month. Join us at these events and create new connections.
Enabling new business, generating more business and advocating for the local business community requires a group effort. The more individuals who make a commitment to the group effort, the more we will be able to further elevate the business community.
As the Eagles showed the world earlier this year, working together creates a stronger team. Together we can create not just a better business environment, but a stronger community.
Kara Stoller is CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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