Post-COVID Turmoil, Communicating Value, Politics, Continue as Chamber Challenges

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the chamber industry today, and how do you see us overcoming them?

Sherry Menor-McNamara
Chamber of Commerce Hawaii

A big challenge facing the chamber industry today includes understanding the unique needs of your business community and pivoting the business model to serve those needs.

Demonstrating and selling the value of the organization to potential members looks different now than it did before the pandemic. It was hard for the chamber industry to navigate because our value shifted from providing opportunities to connect to providing critical information about resources to keep businesses afloat.

Businesses are still recovering from the pandemic and the resulting economic pinch. While networking and events are important, many new members join because chambers can facilitate grant funding opportunities, take the lead on community initiatives and advocate for policy reforms at the county, state and federal levels that allow businesses room to grow.

The way chambers can solidify their value today is by enhancing advocacy efforts and by establishing themselves as resources and leaders in their communities.

John Tayer
Boulder (CO) Chamber

In the spirit of the three C’s chamber model, the biggest challenge for our industry is fully grasping the true nature of our evolving economy in this post-COVID period.

Along those lines, we should be pursuing a holistic understanding of this “new normal,” and the implications for our local businesses and communities, through thorough research and analysis.

Armed with that information, we can begin leading the process of stakeholder engagement to devise and implement strategies that build future economic resilience. This is the imperative role chambers must play to sustain the vitality of our communities and industry.

Jake Mangas
Redding (CA) Chamber

As chamber of commerce leaders we are called upon to represent business interests with government. Sometimes that means taking an active role in local politics.

To me, one of the greater challenges facing chambers is to not allow our “voice” to be silenced by people willing to shout the loudest. It’s time to think strategically.

We have chosen as a chamber to start advocating by educating. We no longer endorse candidates and fund campaigns; instead, we bring the candidates to the business community through forums that ask questions influenced by our members.

We must not act out of fear, but out of the realization that in these divisive times when emotions can take over city and county meetings, we need to be active listeners and respond with data and facts on issues of importance to our business community.

Delight in the sane middle!

Jessica Viera, IOM
Greater Wasilla (AK) Chamber

The chamber industry grapples with several significant challenges today, with economic uncertainty and workforce issues taking the forefront.

The ongoing volatility in the business environment, particularly in the wake of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, poses a substantial obstacle for businesses in their pursuit of effective planning and strategy. The rapidly evolving nature of work demands new skills and competencies, making workforce development and engagement critical concerns.

Chambers cannot afford to maintain the status quo; they must adapt to these evolving challenges. This involves diversifying their service offerings and crafting a comprehensive package that encompasses networking opportunities, educational programs and proactive advocacy initiatives.

Such a multifaceted approach not only benefits members but also fosters their active engagement within the chamber and community.

Alicia Main
Executive Director
Carson Valley (NV) Chamber

The biggest challenge facing chambers today is the changing business environment post-COVID and the difficult economic headwinds concerning investment and capital. Both these issues are compounding to make it more difficult for existing members to retain their membership and for new members to devote resources to chamber functions.

Now more than ever chamber events and services must be relevant to the membership and provide value to members. Embracing new and emerging technologies or processes is key to keeping chambers relevant. Fostering communication through networking and events which share this quality information provides value to the membership, ensuring the chamber is a useful resource to our business community.