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Why Chambers of Commerce Need to Manage Community Business Business

Many of us are accustom to sharing business responsibility in our communities. Often besides a chamber of commerce, there are downtown business associations and/or economic development associations. When these organizations vie for the same manpower and dollars, frequently messages are diluted when communicating with the public. More often than not conflicts occur to the point of limited positive result for any and all organizations.

How do we keep these issues from arising in the first place? First, we as chambers need to fill and control the need. Considering that such organizations are currently under the chamber area of responsibility, as managers we need to be sensitive to the community needs. These include growth opportunities from economic development to the individual needs of storefront owners. Always maintain the pulse of the needs of these two groups and fill that need. Also, consider your community’s growth practices. How does large business affect your community? Is your community interested in slow growth, controlled growth, or no growth?

You say that these organizations already exist. What to do? Take the lead. To be the lead organize, operate, and host common functions. This does not mean footing the bill for the other community organization’s socials. However, when there is a business meeting, even away from your site, be the host. Always, always have someone from your organization represented at their business meetings. Maintain an open and honest dialog. Be clear that your mission is your mission, representing your membership. Be assured that you will have overlapping areas of competitiveness. Avoid conflict, however be prepared to compete for similar benefits to your common memberships.

Let’s take a look at how a chamber of commerce might be impacted by a business association in the same community. Below we have outlined a typical Chamber and an Economic Development Association.

COMPETITION FOR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEMBERSHIP IN THE NORTH COUNTY

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSOC.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP*Networking*Advertising*Referrals<*Mailing listsEducation

*Community connection
*Governmental affairs
hear from representatives
member voices and letters heard
*Special events
 
Cost for business, 6 to 10 employees $200/year.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
*Local Government Advocacy
*Publicity
*Mailing lists
*Prospecting
*Networking
*Special events
 
 
(note: underlined means duplication from organizations)
 
Cost for business, 6 to 10 employees $250/year

TOTAL COST FOR THIS MODEL above, $450/year

Total membership Chamber of Commerce, 400 plus members

Community size: 90,000

The neighbor communities share borders. Community sizes, chamber members, and cost for similar memberships are below. This is an actual study done in April 2002.

*Octal Chamber of Commerce, 6-10 employees $240/year approximately 1000 members Community size: 140,000

Callus Chamber of Commerce 6-10 employees $295/year approximately 1700 members Community size: 80,000

San Pascal Chamber of Commerce 6-10 employees $231/year approximately 700 members

Community size: 70,000

CONCLUSION: All the above Chambers offer the same BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP as the combined membership of our model CHAMBER OF COMMERCE and our model ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION. Therefore, in this case the chamber of commerce needs to be prepared to work within the guidelines of fair competition. This is very evident in the duplication of membership benefits.

Also, note the chamber in our model has no governmental representation in the local, state, or federal level. This would be great in a small community chamber (population less than 30,000 with less than 40 large businesses employing 100 or more.) The economic development association has local government representation, but none in the state or federal government

The close proximity of the neighboring communities for Octal, Callus, and San Pascal, with their large business memberships, equal benefits to the combined chamber of commerce and economic development association make it impossible to compete. At nearly half the annual fees, our model has a nearly impossible task to increase membership.

The best situation, work within your systems to the best interest of the community you represent. Take the lead. Become the business advocate of choice. As the business advocate of choice, you will maintain community respect, direct the use of business revenues for business causes, and maintain control of essential business community issues.

*Names have been changed.

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA. He works with realtors who want to attract the right prospects and their affinity partners who want to generate more referrals. More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability. Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.

His books, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, 101 Tips to Attract Prospects, 101 Tips to Generate Referrals and Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Giving Your Clients What They WANT, So You Get What You WANT are currently available. Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Using Your Time, Energy, and Creativity to Create Value, will be available in 2006.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses. He is a networking dynamo. Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together’which is why he started Integrity.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is an Accomplished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to gerry@integritysd.com.  For more information, go to www.integritysd.com

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