Chamber Highlights 2010
Highlights of 2010 in the Chamber’s five core areas:
Leadership and Impact
- Hired Manager of Equine Development: Hired Edward (Ed) Scanlon in January, and he began his duties on February 1. As manager of Equine Development, Scanlon spearheads efforts to grow and preserve the $72 million-plus equine industry in Aiken County. He works closely with the Equine Steering Committee, four sub committees, the Chamber leadership, and the community at large to move visions to action and to meet goals.
- Completed AYP Strategic Plan: Spearheaded an in-depth, strategic planning session for the Aiken Chamber Young Professionals that resulted in a well defined vision and bold action steps for 2010 and beyond. The aggressive plan features five bold steps with a vision that focuses on three areas – networking, community service, and educational events designed to nurture future leaders of the Greater Aiken area.
- Supported the School Bond Referendum: The Aiken Chamber, along with the North Augusta Chamber and other local groups, supported the Aiken County School Bond Referendum. The voters did not agree; however, we will continue to support our public education’s needs. At the very least, the referendum heightened awareness of these needs.
Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
- Informed Members on Legislative Issues:
- Hosted Washington Comes to Aiken featuring U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
- Invited candidates for South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, state Representative Jeff Duncan (R) and Jane Dyer (D), to speak at First Friday Means Business.
- Continued to monitor the City of Aiken’s proposed Highway Overlay District Ordinance. The Chamber had a strong presence at an April 18 meeting when the City Planning Commission met with City Council to determine upcoming priorities. Following the meeting, City Council decided to postpone consideration of the Highway Overlay District Ordinance for a year.
- Invited Representative Tom Young, Jr. to look at business issues for the General Assembly in 2011 at First Friday Means Business.
- Coordinated and executed the annual CSRA Leadership trip to Washington, DC, that included four area chambers of commerce – Greater Aiken and North Augusta in SC, and Augusta Metro and Columbia County in GA
- Completed Major Equine Initiatives:
- Identified and mapped more than 600 miles of existing equine trails in Aiken County that could be connected for future trail riding and green space. Some connecting trails have been identified and mapped.
- Set up future education seminars for Equine Steering Committee members and property owners on the different types of easements and conservation options they have to protect trails and open space.
- Launched the first ever Equine Performing Arts Series to showcase the various disciplines and to assist the community in understanding them.
- Completed AYP Community Service Projects: The Aiken Chamber Young Professionals completed three community service projects that support the AYP strategic plan. “Celebrating Aiken’s Future” festival and a 5-K run supported “Celebrate Aiken,” the City’s 175th anniversary. The group also raised $1,801 during “Celebrity Waiter Night” benefiting Children’s Place and finished 6th out of 14 participating restaurants.
- Revamped Aiken’s Makin’ footprint: The Chamber collaborated with the City of Aiken to redesign the show’s layout. The change was necessary as the parkways were modified to alleviate drainage issues in Hitchcock Woods. The footprint of the festival may have changed slightly but not the character and content of the popular annual show.
Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
- Launched “Shop Aiken” Campaign: In response to the results of a member survey, the Chamber ran print ads touting “Shop Aiken” over a three-month period from October through December. The ad reminds readers to Shop Aiken for gifts, services and dining. A “Shop Aiken” radio campaign was launched in November.
- Launched “Bright Futures” Initiative: The Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee spearheaded Career Exploration at the Business, Innovation, and Technology Expo (part of Celebrate Aiken). The goal was to showcase business and technology to the future workforce and to provide information on how to prepare for different careers.
- Promoted City’s Small Business Forum: The Chamber encouraged its members to attend the City’s Small Business Forum and to complete the Small Business Survey sent by the City. The efforts were done by the City to gather information on legislative and other issues that impact small business.
Business Training and Education
- Launched the Spring Business Academy: to meet the demands of the membership, which included numerous requests for information on social media. The first session of the Spring Business Academy covered social media and legal issues, and the second one covered using social media for marketing purposes. More than 150 Chamber members attended.
- Presented Dave Ramsey “Live”: The Chamber spearheaded the effort to bring renowned radio host and best-selling author, Dave Ramsey, to Aiken via a live simulcast. The popular business and financial guru shared his thoughts and principles on how to grow a business and lead a team to a capacity crowd during the one-day event at the USCA Convocation Center.
- Held Free “Ask the Expert” Series: The Chamber offered a free, three-part series on various business topics presented by experts in the field. The topics included Human Resource Issues, Taxes and Investing, and Securing a Loan.
Fiscal Integrity and Operations
- Launched a Next Generation Website: The Chamber continues to invest in technology in order to deliver a high value product to members. The next generation website went “live” in May. It is designed to get visitors where they need to be quickly and to provide pertinent information and links in an organized manner.
- Enhanced Utilization of the Chamber Building: The Chamber revamped and redesigned space within the building to house the SRS Heritage Foundation offices. The organization was seeking a downtown location until it acquires a permanent location of its own.
- Received a Clean Audit: The Board of Directors received a clean and unqualified opinion on the 2010 audit, and the organization continues to provide audit quality books to auditors each year.