Chamber issues impressive mid-year reportA 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.
Leadership and Impact
The Aiken Chamber has been ranked in the top three chambers of its size nationwide for its excellence in communications. The national Bronze award, presented by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), recognizes the Aiken Chamber and the 2010 issue of Welcome Aiken for meeting and exceeding the fundamental standards and criteria for communications excellence.
Aiken's Makin' , the Chamber's annual arts and crafts show received four "Stars of the Carolinas" Excellence Awards at the South Carolina/North Carolina Annual ShowFest Convention in Greenville this past January.
- Best Volunteer/Volunteer Group award - Chamber Ambassadors
- Sponsor of the Year award - Baker Concrete Construction
- Director of the Year Award - Dianne Phillips
- Best Print Media
Equine Development - A white paper outlining a vision for an international horse park in Aiken County was completed. The paper was approved by the Board and by the Equine Steering Committee. The paper remains a working draft; five group discussions on it were held with Equine Support Council members in June.
The MIDSTATE Chambers Coalition officially launched March 15 with a press conference held at the State House in Columbia. The coalition, representing 19 chambers of commerce in the mid section of South Carolina, will serve as a unified body to promote issues important to the growth and development of communities in the MIDSTATE region.
The Chamber advocated for funding for the MOX construction project at the Savannah River Site. The Continuing Resolution (CR) to ensure funding for 2011 passed both the U.S. House and Senate in the spring.
The Ambassador Program plays a vital role in the Chamber's success. The 2011 team is comprised of 30 Ambassadors.
In the first six months, 35 professionals shared their expertise and delivered timely and powerful information to members.
Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
Extended business-to-business opportunities for members through Business After Hours. Six Business After Hours have been held with more than 1,050 business people attending.
Promoting "Shop Aiken" through print ads, which The remind readers to Shop Aiken for gifts, services and dining.
More than 44 member businesses participated in the Mini Trade Show during Bridgestone's 80th Anniversary Celebration &the Chamber's Membership Appreciation Luncheon.
Planned and executed 10 gathering events for the Aiken Young Professionals. To date, total attendance has exceeded 500. Current AYP membership is 185.
Produced the 2011 edition of Welcome Aiken that features the business directory of Chamber members.
Supported small business growth through partnership with SCORE (Counselors to America's Small Business), which provides consultation to new and established businesses.
Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
The Aiken Chamber participated in the annual CSRA leadership trip to Washington DC to advocate on issues of importance to the region. Forty business, civic, government, and education leaders from the CSRA participated. Issues addressed included:
- Savannah River Site status and concerns, including H Canyon, Yucca Mountain, new missions, and funding
- Fort Gordon
- New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam
- Air Quality
Completed the first ever Equine Performing Arts Series to showcase the various disciplines and to assist the community in understanding them. More than 725 people attended.
The Chamber's local government liaison adds value to the membership as he attends Aiken City and County governmental meetings and keeps the Chamber informed on impending issues/ordinances that impact business.
The Aiken Young Professionals completed four service projects. They defeated the Young Professionals of Augusta in the 2nd annual Ronald McDonald House Plane Pull, finishing 2nd overall (by .04 seconds).
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 93rd Annual Dinner.
Providing cost-of-living data to a national database, which ensures the CSRA demographics are accurately represented. This information has helped to meet the criteria necessary for Aiken to be designated as a top retirement community.
Business Training and Education
Launched a member survey in January to determine members' training and education needs for Chamber programming purposes.
Held a Social Media Boot Camp, a two-hour workshop to help businesses understand, plan, and effectively participate within the social media space. More than 90 Chamber members attended the workshop.
Held a Women in Business breakfast seminarentitled "The Influential Differential," designed to help participants learn how to become more influential in their professional and personal lives. 63 Chamber members attended.
First Friday Means Business continues to attract area businesses for networking and learning. On average, 165 people attend the monthly event, bringing the current total to 990.
Fiscal Integrity and Operations
Currently completing the re-accreditation process through the US Chamber of Commerce to continue the Chamber's status of being the best of the best. Currently, only nine of South Carolina's 81 local chambers are accredited.
The Chamber received a clean and unqualified opinion on the 2010 audit.
Launched a new membership database program, WebLink, with numerous features that support member communications and programs.
The Chamber unveiled a new modern conference room with state-of-the art equipment that enhances electronic presentations. The room seats up to 30 and has its own entrance/exit through the garden area. It is available for rent to Chamber members and other organizations.