Charlotte is rising. Momentum is pulsing through every facet of our community. In one short year, our city has ascended to the Select Level of the Michigan Main Street Program, empty buildings are filling with vibrant commercial spaces, and artwork is emerging throughout town. These many exciting developments are the work of collaboration and partnership.
It is a time for all organizations to unite and support one another. It is time to redefine the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber board is currently facing many challenges we’ve identified as opportunities. We have spent the first quarter of 2017 streamlining operations to improve membership outreach, financial accountability, and organizational structure. A new ambassador group is actively meeting and developing events and membership revitalization.
Now we turn our attention our next goal — defining the value of Chamber membership. Personally, I feel that many businesses pay dues simply because “it’s the right thing to do,” yet realize very little benefit. Chambers across the country face this same challenge. This leads us to…
The Chamber will emerge as a premier organization in Charlotte. It will operate a website that is of great use to membership and town visitors; membership programs will serve as valuable resources for local business; and the events will be highly anticipated. New members will enjoy great notoriety and immediately noticeable value.
How do we accomplish this goal?
• Most immediately, we will hire a new director. We are currently without a permanent employee, but are seeking applications from within the community as well as the professional network available through the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals. We will seek candidates who can develop synergies with the incoming CharlotteRising Main Street Director, to efficiently coordinate the efforts of these two important community organizations.
• Personally visiting every member seeking input and feedback from membership. Expect a call from an ambassador or board member soon.
• Update and develop our website for maximum impact.
• Streamlining our collaboration with other emerging/existing organizations, including CharlotteRising, CANDO, Locals in Business, and service clubs.
• Creating opportunity for business networking through the after-hours mixers.
• Creating educational resources for member businesses.
• Re-evaluating the purpose and value of our organization with the intention of developing more tangible resources and programming to increase the potency of our efforts to deliver on our mission and vision.
• Continue to develop our events into opportunities for showcasing our business community.
• Consider developing new membership categorizations and introducing tiered dues structure.
• Updating welcome/farewell protocol and follow-through.
Although hiring a director is an immediate goal, we recognize that finding the right fit takes time and strategic thinking. While the search is in process, we will act upon the other points laid out in this letter, so that the new director will have momentum and direction from day one.
We intend to plan the annual chamber dinner for the fall season, allowing us to fully introduce the “new chamber” to you and celebrate the many current and future successes of our city and the businesses that define it.
Charlotte has always enjoyed great support from our business leaders, and with the influx of resources from Michigan Main Street and the energy of a new generation of entrepreneurs, our opportunity is only limited by our effort. The Chamber is one of many important players in nourishing ongoing momentum in developing opportunities in our community. We look forward to a vibrant summer as we collaborate with you to do our part as Charlotte rises.
J. Tyler Pray
2017 Chamber President