A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the W.A.C.E. annual conference with other chamber leaders from as far west as Hawaii, as far east as Ohio and as far north as Canada.
The site of our meeting, Disneyland, is one of the most iconic locations in the country, and I couldn’t help but draw one particular parallel between Disney and chambers: both are deeply rooted in history and tradition, and both must change in order to survive.
It was an impactful three days where we learned, exchanged ideas, and focused on how to keep chambers of commerce relevant in an increasingly complex, evolving and fickle marketplace.
A big thank you to Chris Romer and the Conference Committee, as well as Dave Kilby and the incomparable W.A.C.E. team for a truly remarkable three days!
Transforming with Business
The great thing about Disneyland is that it’s always, well, Disneyland. It has looked pretty much the same since it opened decades ago. Main Street is still bustling with stores and characters are everywhere. People are still clamoring to get photos with Mickey Mouse and eTicket rides are still the order of the day. You get exactly what you came for.
But while a lot of Disneyland still looks the same, the park—I should really say parks at this point—has changed and evolved to meet the needs of consumers and park goers.
You need not look any further than the new Star Wars land under construction to witness Disney’s commitment to staying relevant while remaining true to its Fantasyland roots with the refurbishment of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
That’s exactly what chambers of commerce must do as well. In order to remain relevant to our members and our communities, we need to evolve to meet the needs of business while staying true to our mission.
As we transform to serve a dynamic economy, it’s critical that the programs we offer our members are not only impactful, but also are mission-driven. That’s why W.A.C.E. will once again offer training and learning opportunities to meet the needs of our members.
From our Business Retention and Expansion Boot Camp and the Political Action Boot Camp, to our webinar series and everything in between, W.A.C.E. works to provide resources to help chambers improve their standing in the community and increase their value proposition to members.
A large component of the value proposition that chambers offer is to serve as catalysts for innovation and change, conveners of communities, and champions for business. The 3 C’s…much more on that in the coming months!
As our economy and needs continue evolving, we must work together to innovate and remind the public that we’re not their grandparents’ chamber. And, while we still serve as pillars in our communities, we also act as a catalyst for industry and growth.
I’m proud to be your chairman for the upcoming year and to work together moving all of our chambers and communities forward. I truly believe when we collaborate across jurisdictions and across state lines, we all soar! That’s what W.A.C.E. is all about.
Todd Sanders is the president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix (AZ) Chamber, and chairman of the board of W.A.C.E.