2009 Chamber in Review
The board of directors of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce reported a successful and productive 2009. The annual Program of Work focused on initiatives important to the membership. These initiatives and goals attracted dedicated volunteers who worked side by side with the Chamber's professional staff to ensure a strong business community that strengthens the area's economy and contributes to quality of life.
2009 Top 10 Highlights:
Blue Laws Suspended: Collaborated with the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce to suspend the Blue Laws, which dictated Sunday operating hours for retail sales. Suspension of the Blue Laws passed with a 7 to 2 vote of Aiken County Council.
Business Voice Heard: Provided recommendations on the City of Aiken's proposed Highway Overlay District Design Guidelines at the request of the city.
$32,025 Raised for the "$175 for the 175th" campaign to help offset the costs of next year's "Celebrate Aiken," honoring the City's 175th anniversary. Since the announcement, the participant list has grown.
National Recognition: Placed in the Top 10 for excellence in membership in 2008. The Membership Achievement Award, given by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, recognizes the Aiken Chamber in two strong categories - the Number of New Members and New Member Dollars.
Equine Steering Committee Created: 67 equine enthusiasts are working on the goal of preserving and growing the area's equine industry through four active sub committees - Conservation/Open Space, Horse Park, Governmental Affairs, and Marketing.
Member Participation: Member participation at numerous functions and events continues to grow and set records. First Friday Means Business attendance total - 2,000, Business After Hours - 2,700, Business Academy and seminars - 350, Women in Business - 130.
AYP Doubles: The 2009 Young Professionals Program with a focus on networking, professional development, and community involvement grew from 100 members last year to 230 members.
Hire Local Buy Local: Challenged local hiring professionals for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus money - $1.6 billion for the Savannah River Site - to hire locally. Strongly encouraged SRS leadership to procure goods and services locally for ARRA work at the Site.
Owning a Piece of America's Nuclear Renaissance: In collaboration with the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO), Aiken Technical College, the University of South Carolina Aiken, the Economic Development Partnership, and a host of other interested entities, the Aiken Chamber is spearheading the massive effort that could spell economic success and guarantee jobs for Aiken County and the region for years to come.
Gift Cards Surprise Teachers: Seventy-one businesses and individuals contributed funds to present $75 gift cards to more than 80 new teachers to buy supplies and "jump start" their classrooms.
Five core areas of the Chamber influence every aspect of its program of work:
--Leadership and Impact
--Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
--Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
--Business Training and Education
--Fiscal Integrity and Operations