Execs Launch New Programs, Conferences; Jettison ‘Sacred Cows’ to Avoid Stagnation

Change happens! What’s something new that you have implemented or changed in your chamber?

Gail Zurek, ACE
Visalia (CA) Chamber

After a decade, we killed the golf tournament. Yes, it made money and yes, people liked it. But it wasn’t impacting business, leaders or advancing our mission. It was easy to put together, but was no longer right for our chamber.

Freeing us of that obligation, we took a hard look at the needs of our members. We developed a daylong Leadership Conference with two national speakers, three breakout sessions (with seven breakouts each) and a working “whitewater” lunch. It was a huge undertaking, but we received very positive reviews and support, and expectations are high for next year. It’s nice to say the Visalia Chamber builds leaders and have evidence to support that.

Jack Llewellyn
Executive Director
Durango (CO) Chamber

Change is inevitable and needs to take place or we can become stagnant. Hitting the refresh button can often boost morale, visibility and enhance membership engagement.

The Durango Chamber built a new facility and we moved in mid-December. Since that time, we have experienced a surge in new members, more than double the number of new members joining compared to previous years. A new building is a large and expensive undertaking and can be cost prohibitive. However, changing a few things can heighten your visibility. Change your logo and branding, the exterior of your building, the setup at programs, how often you engage with your members, outreach to elected officials, or jettison some of those “sacred cows.” As we enter spring, now is a good time to implement change.

Linda Moholt, IOM
Tualatin (OR) Chamber

The adage “The only thing constant is change” by Heraclius, is an important reminder that as our environment changes, so should our organization. Each year, our staff and board look internally to see what we could do better and how we can provide a better value for our members. Many of our ideas come from the professional development conferences that we attend, such as W.A.C.E. This year, we’re working on communication and how we can tailor our messages more effectively by business category to enhance the value add. Additionally, we’re creating templates by business category to streamline the consistency and efficiency of the messaging.

Bryan Starr
Greater Irvine (CA) Chamber

Over the last two years we have pivoted our focus from being an inward-facing entity to an outward-facing organization focused on the diverse assets of our community. We spend less time telling our story and more time elevating the good work of all the entities that make Irvine great. This approach has elevated our chamber’s role as the principal convener of greater Irvine business and community stakeholders as we work toward the common goal of advancing the economic vitality of the region.

The unexpected result is the reservoir of goodwill we have created with our community partners. They have now become chamber champions among their constituencies. This community-based focus has brought greater attention to our chamber, which is now recognized as the leading catalyst for economic development in greater Irvine. Becoming a true champion for our community rather than ourselves has proven to be a model for success. Our membership has grown, our influence has grown, and our position as a regional leader has been strengthened.

Betsy Hays
Evergreen Area (CO) Chamber

At the Evergreen Chamber we initiated an “In It Together” program between our board of directors and members. At each of our monthly breakfast meetings we spend the last 15 minutes making connections. Attendees are counted off at the various tables—breaking up those who started the morning sitting together. Then a board member, who has agreed to facilitate networking and brainstorming on how to solve individual business issues, leads each group of 9–10 people. Members love it as it makes it easier to meet potential power partners they may have not come across.

Plus, board members volunteer to sit down and have coffee with members to discuss issues. The board bios are on our website, and members are encouraged to take a look and reach out on their own. The membership has really enjoyed the activity and business that is happening because of it! Our board is engaged, our members are engaged and every month the enthusiasm in the room grows.