Aiken Chamber Means Business
A Chamber is generally known by how well goals are accomplished in the areas of Leadership & Impact, Economic Opportunity and Market Growth, Regional Advocacy and Community Focus, and Fiscal Integrity and Operations.
1. Leadership and Impact
The Chamber incorporates the resources and talents of a diverse Board of Directors, dedicated volunteers, the President/CEO, and a motivated professional staff, which ensure a maximum, positive impact for members and the community at large.
• Chamber Chair Steve Wilson, SRP Federal Credit Union, appointed a Blue Ribbon Panel led by Past Chair Arthur W. “Buzz” Rich, Esq. The panel is comprised of strategic thinkers who are seeking best practices, innovations, and programs/projects that could add to quality of life and/or economic value to the Aiken area.
• More than 200 volunteers helped to grow the Chamber’s “voice of business” beyond 1,100 members – a 25% increase and the Aiken Chamber’s largest membership ever.
• Garnered valuable input from members on how the Savannah River Site (SRS) furloughs were impacting their businesses to build a strong case to end the furloughs.
• Collaborating with the City of Aiken and Aiken County as anchor institutions to attract, and support the start-up of, Clemson University’s Urban Ecology Center.
• 42 professionals in various fields shared their expertise and delivered timely, innovative, and powerful information to Chamber members.
• 51 Chamber Ambassadors provided valuable services to support membership retention and growth.
2. Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
The Chamber enhances and leverages the talents and resources of its members to improve economic opportunities for all.
• Continue to promote “Shop Aiken” for gifts, services, and dining.
• Held six Business After Hours with more than 1,180 business people attending since January.
• Assisted 12 new or expanding businesses with grand openings and ribbon cuttings.
• 48 member businesses participated in the Mini Trade Show, held in conjunction with the Chamber’s Membership Appreciation Luncheon on June 21. More than 300 members attended the AllStar event.
• 101 business professionals benefited from business-to-business networking during the Chamber’s 9th Annual PARSONS Spring Golf Classic.
• Produced the 2013 edition of Welcome Aiken that features the business directory of Chamber members along with their goods and services.
3. Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
The Chamber advocates on behalf of its broad and diverse member businesses, creating a climate of growth and success that benefits all. The Chamber helps to strengthen our community through leadership in top business, civic, education, and social priorities.
• Participated in the annual trip to Washington DC to advocate on issues of importance to the region. Forty-one business, civic, government, and education leaders from the CSRA went on the trip. Issues addressed with U.S. senators and representatives and key department heads with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pentagon included:
o Savannah River Site and Fort Gordon budget issues and sequestration
o New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam
• The Chamber’s Government Liaison attended Aiken City and County governmental meetings to keep the Chamber leadership informed on impending issues/ordinances that impact business.
• Recognized and honored the Woman and Man of the Year, as well as the Large and Small Business of the Year, at the Chamber’s 95th Annual Dinner.
• Provided quarterly cost-of-living data to a national database to ensure that the demographics of the CSRA are accurately represented.
4. Business Training and Education
The Chamber provides opportunities for members to sharpen their skills and secure a competitive edge while staying abreast of current trends and events that can affect their bottom line.
• Held a Spring Business Academy, “Identity Theft – It IS All About You,” to help businesses and their employees protect their identity.
• Held a Women in Business luncheon entitled “Be a Woman of the Year at Your Place of Business,” featuring the Chamber’s last three recipients of the Woman of the Year award. 104 Chamber members attended the luncheon.
• First Friday Means Business continues to attract area businesses for networking, and timely business topics, featuring City Talk, County Talk, and Chamber Talk. More than 1,000 people have attended since January.
• Supported small business growth through partnership with SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business), which provides consultation to new and established businesses.
5. Fiscal Integrity and Operations
The Chamber is steadfast in maintaining operations and in developing the membership base to maximize fiscal integrity and to ensure a sound, well run organization.
• The Chamber reports a 17% net growth in membership from May 31, 2012 to May 31, 2013.
• The Board of Directors received a clean and unqualified opinion on the 2012 audit.