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The Chamber

2010 Program of Work

Introduction

The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce reports a successful and productive 2009.  Positive awareness of the Chamber was elevated through stellar programming and heightened media coverage at our many events.  It is my belief that we are successful because we provide solid programming, are focused on what is important to the membership, attract great volunteers, and because of our dedicated professional staff.

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. 

These achievements of 2009 tell me that members, old and new, value our current direction of meeting their short-term needs while preparing for Aiken’s economy of the future.

In looking forward, we project more successes for 2010.  The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce program of work provides numerous courses of action for the organization and several new initiatives to support our strategic plan. 

The five core areas of the Chamber influence every aspect of the program of work:

  • Leadership and Impact
  • Regional Advocacy and Community Focus
  • Economic Opportunity and Market Growth
  • Business Training and Education
  • Fiscal Integrity and Operations

With the guidance and support of an exceptional Board of Directors, motivated volunteers, and a dedicated professional staff, the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce is poised to implement an aggressive plan of work for 2010. 

As always, I appreciate your support of the Chamber. 

Department Programming
Public Affairs 
Vice Chair of the Board, Public Affairs:  Brenda Stein; Veracity Payment Solutions
Director of Public Affairs and Operations:  Cindy Delaney 

The Public Affairs department of the Greater Aiken Chamber will work to build and diversify the economy by representing the interests of its membership at the local, state and federal levels of government. 

Objectives:

  1. Advocate issues of major importance to the community’s economic vitality and quality of life along five core areas, including:  government affairs, education, transportation, environment, and workforce development. 
  2. Develop programs, forums and events that will inform the business community and the general populace about issues impacting business and economic development. 
  3. Work with other chambers and businesses throughout the region to advocate on issues at the Federal level that impact the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA).

 New Initiatives for 2010 

  • Begin recording votes of the Aiken City Council and Aiken County Council.  Establish a process to distribute this information to the membership.  The Governmental Affairs Committee or a task force will evaluate voting trends and/or patterns and report their findings to the Board at least twice a year. 
  • The Governmental Affairs Committee or a task force will develop a list of recommended projects for the one-cent sales tax funding and report to the Board by the March meeting. 
  • In 2009, the Governmental Affairs Committee completed a report of how various states support national labs.  In 2010, the Governmental Affairs Committee or a task force will work with the Savannah River National Lab to devise a strategy to advocate for state funding to support SRNL. 
  • Execute the plan of the Work Force Development Committee to focus on meeting the future needs of business and industry.   

Business and Community Development 
Vice Chair, Business and Community Development:  Dr. Deidre Martin; USCA
Director of Business and Community Development:  Professional Staff  

The Business and Community Development department of the Aiken Chamber will work to support business development and community initiatives that contribute to the economy and attract a diverse, demographically balanced population. 

Objectives: 

  1. Build and diversify the economy by assisting Chamber members who own or manage small businesses to prosper and advance. 
  2. Support quality development and competitive advantage of Aiken for the growth of business and creation of jobs. 
  3. Create a pro-business atmosphere for current and future entrepreneurs.  
  4. Create new relationships and alliances to enhance existing community programs and efforts that contribute to the area’s strengths and appeal.

  New Initiatives for 2010 

  • Fund $12,000 for staff support of the Equine Steering Committee. 
  • The Equine Steering Committee will apply for a South Carolina Parks and Recreation planning grant to produce an action plan with timeline for the development of the International Horse Park Project.  The plan will be available for Board review by August. 
  • The Equine Steering Committee will develop a plan with timeline for an equine trail system in Aiken County.  The plan will be available for Board review by June. 
  • The Aiken Young Professionals will develop a strategic plan that will focus on the attraction and retention of young professional and align the group closer to the Chambers mission and goals.  The strategic plan will be completed by March and presented to the Board at their April meeting. 
  • Create a task force to research best practices of other communities that help entrepreneurs and small businesses expand.  Recommend one new initiative at the April board meeting.  
  • Adapt Aiken’s Makin’ based on parkway construction.

Membership Services
Chair-Elect, Membership Services:  Frank Thomas; Security Federal Bank

Director of Membership Services:  Heath Taylor
Director of Finance and Membership:  Dianne Phillips  

The Membership Services department of the Aiken Chamber will work to develop meaningful programs and services that respond to the needs of Chamber members and lead the Aiken Chamber to become a ‘model’ Chamber.  The Chamber’s membership base will be increased, as well as non-dues services.

 Objectives: 

  1. Provide meaningful networking programs and services that deliver business leads for Chamber members. 
  2. Expand the membership base of the Chamber. 
  3. Increase non-dues revenue for the Chamber. 

New Initiatives for 2010 

  • Build Chamber membership to exceed 1,000 members 
  • Engage a broader group of members in the work of the Chamber and build the quality of events to attract more members.  

Administrative 
Chair of the Board:  Liz Stewart, Stewart and Associates, Inc.

Chamber President/CEO:  J. David Jameson 

The Administration of the Aiken Chamber will work to develop a ‘model’ chamber of commerce by maintaining and growing the Chamber’s membership base and fiscal well being necessary to carry out the mission and objectives of the organization while ensuring the integrity of the chamber and the community.

 Objectives 

  1. Maximize the Chamber’s fiscal integrity through the use of financial best practices and annual audits of quality records. 
  2. Prepare, implement and oversee the annual budget and program of work as developed from the Board of Directors annual planning session. 
  3. Review and evaluate current programs to determine if they are meeting established objectives and supporting the Chamber’s strategic plan. 
  4. Review and evaluate all non-dues funding sources, including new funding sources.

 New Initiatives for 2010 

  • Develop a “next generation” website for the organization and have it operational by mid-year. 
  • Evaluate the need for a Visitors’ Center at the Chamber, determine other uses for the space, and review ways to make the building more functional for current Chamber needs.  Bring a recommendation to the Board by June. 
  • Support the City of Aiken’s 175th anniversary, Celebrate Aiken, with a feature story in Welcome Aiken, an Annual Dinner theme that complements the yearlong event, a continued representation on the steering committee, and appropriate promotion of the Celebrate Aiken events.  The Aiken Chamber is one of the top five sponsors of Celebrate Aiken. 
  • Recognize the importance of and support the Aiken Chamber President/CEO in his leadership role as Chair of the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO), a two-state, five-county economic development and advocacy group of the region. (Jameson is an appointee of the SRSCRO from the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce and will serve as Chair from January 2010 through December 2011. In many ways the missions of the Chamber and the SRSCRO are complement each other.)

Ongoing Model Programs & Initiatives
Public Affairs 
 

  • State of Our Community Luncheon
  • CSRA Leadership Trip to Washington, DC
  • New Educators Recognition
  • Savannah River National Laboratory Advocacy
  • Business Advocacy
  • Guide to Government publication
  • Competitiveness Agenda – South Carolina Chamber 

Business and Community Development 

  • Business Academy
  • Women In Business Program
  • Young Professionals
  • 34th Aiken’s Makin’
  • Equine Development

Membership Services 

  • 92nd Annual Dinner and Awards
  • Membership Sales and Annual Campaign
  • “Welcome Aiken” magazine with membership directory
  • Monthly First Friday Means Business
  • Monthly Business After Hours
  • Ambassador Program
  • SCORE – “Counselors to America’s Small Business”
  • Spring Golf Classic
  • 22nd Annual Industry Appreciation Golf Tournament
  • Membership Appreciation Luncheon & Mini Trade Show 
  • Ribbon Cuttings & Grand Openings
  • New Member Receptions
  • Cost of Living Index (The Council for Community and Economic Research)
  • Chamber Web Enhancements, Sales, Maintenance
  • Visitors Center Display Sales 

Administrative 

  • Annual Budget and Program of Work
  • Financial Management
  • Monthly Newsletter – Commerce Report 

2010 Board of Directors
Executive Committee:
Dr. Liz Stewart, Chair; Stewart and Associates, Inc.

Frank Thomas, Chair-elect, Security Federal Bank
Cindy Meares, Secretary/Treasurer; Elliott Davis, LLC
Brenda Stein, Vice Chair Public Affairs, Veracity Payment Solutions, Inc.
Dr. Deidre Martin, Vice Chair Business and Community Development; USCA
Joe E. Lewis, Immediate Past Chair; Savannah River Banking Co.
J. David Jameson, President/CEO 

Board of Directors:
Reginal B. Barner, The Barner Group

Dr. Sam Bhattacharyya, Savannah River National Laboratory
Bart Blackwell, B & S Machine Tool, Inc.
Sally Brodie, ERA Real Estate One
Samantha Charles, Sidelines/Barn Book and Hatchaway Bridge Farms
Robert Freitas, Edward Jones Investments, Freitas
Dr. Gemma K. Frock, Aiken Technical College
Carlos Milanes, Aiken Regional Medical Centers
Liz H. Neal, The Hills of Cumberland Village
Andrew Siders, VistaBank
Carl Smith, Smith Financial and Tax Advisory Group
Jeff Wallace, Aiken Standard
Gary Williamson, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
Steve Wilson, SRP Federal Credit Union
Robbie Yarborough, Especially Seniors of Aiken, LLC
Tom Young, Jr., Whetstone, Myers, Perkins & Young, LLC 

Appointed Board Members: 
Dr. Elizabeth Everitt, Aiken County Public Schools
Fred E. Humes, Economic Development Partnership
J. Clay Killian, County of Aiken
Roger LeDuc, City of Aiken
Arthur W. “Buzz” Rich, Attorney


Chamber Professional Staff:
Mandy Collins, Information Services Coordinator

Cynthia A. Delaney, Director, Public Affairs and Operations
Dianne Phillips, Director, Finance & Membership Development
Heath Taylor, Director, Membership Services
Gary Allington, Local Government Liaison
Michael Lupfer, Director, Member Relations
Edward Scanlon, Manager, Equine Development