The Chamber

2011 Program of Work

Introduction

The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce reports a successful and productive 2010.  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.

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. 

These achievements of 2010 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 2011.  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. 

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 2011. 

As always, I appreciate your support of the Chamber. 

With warmest personal regards, 

J. David Jameson
President / CEO 

Department Programming

Public Affairs
Vice Chair, Public Affairs:  Carl Smith; Smith Financial and Tax Advisory Group
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 2011

  • Be a leader in evaluating the feasibility of, and in joining with other chambers in, the Midstate Chamber Coalition.  The Coalition would serve as a unified body to promote a South Carolina legislative agenda that supports the interests of the business community in the Midstate region.  The Coalition would serve to complement, as well as counteract, the work of the Upstate and Coastal Chamber Coalitions.  Through the Midstate Chamber Coalition, the Aiken Chamber would look for opportunities in promoting its initiatives, including:
    • Small business growth
    • The nuclear workforce
    • Technology and its growth through the Savannah River National Laboratory
    • Hydrogen research at the Savannah River National Laboratory
    • Air quality issues and their effect on the region
  • In 2009, the Governmental Affairs Committee completed a report of how various states support national labs.  In 2010, a task force met with the Savannah River National Lab to discuss ways the Chamber could advocate for state funding for SRNL.  In 2011, the Chamber will devise a solid strategy to advocate for state funding for SRNL’s technology transfer program. 
  • 

Business and Community Development
Vice Chair, Business and Community Development:  Steve Wilson, SRP Federal Credit Union
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.
  5. 

New Initiatives for 2011 

  • Continue to grow and preserve the Equine Industry by building upon the accomplishments of the equine committees:

             Conservation, Open Space and Integrated Trails Committee  

  •  
    • Continue work on a “Green Way” connector trail to extend around Aiken County; ideally connecting to equestrian communities, venues, and parks.
    • Enter into agreement with Aiken Land Conservancy to enable establishment of easements for equine activities
    • Formalize and preserve trail system through the granting of easements
    • Establish organizational capability to maintain/manage trail system
    • Institute information program to educate land owners on the benefits and capabilities for conservation easements
    • Work with Commissioner of Agriculture to ensure that equine farming activities are integral components of SC agriculture
    • Strengthen marketing/communication programs to ensure continuation of support  and promotion of our vital equine community

 International Horse Park  

  •  
    • Settle on a site for the Horse Park and begin process to secure it.
    • Select a core of site preparation, architectural, environmental, and discipline consultants to help define a plan for the horse park
    • Apply to USDA for major funding; have a comprehensive fund raising plan completed
    • Establish a 501(c-3), not-for-profit organization by the end of first quarter
    • Establish an advisory board for the horse park by the end of the second quarter
    • Finalize phase 1 of a plan of construction, with a goal of beginning construction during the second quarter of 2012, funding permitting.
  • Promote and distribute 3,000 Aiken County equine maps. 
  • Change the name of the Equine Steering Committee to Equine Support Council.


Membership Services
Chair-Elect, Membership Services:  Buzz Rich; Attorney
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. 
  4. 

New Initiatives for 2011 

  • Promote “Shop Aiken” with print ads and radio spots to support building business and strengthening the local economy. 
  • Suspend the annual automatic dues increase to assist members in getting their businesses on solid financial ground. 
  • 

Administrative
Chair of the Board:  Frank Thomas, Security Federal Bank
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. 
  5. 

New Initiatives for 2011 

  • Initiate and complete the Re-accreditation process through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The Aiken Chamber’s last accreditation was November 2006 for five years.  The completed application for November 2011 is due to the U.S. Chamber in August.  
  • Open and promote the recently completed meeting space to groups of 30 or less for training and education purposes.  
  • Continue to 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’s term as chair of the organization will end December 2011.  
  • 

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
  • e-Guide to Government
  • Competitiveness Agenda – South Carolina Chamber

 Business and Community Development 

  • Business Academy
  • Women In Business Program
  • Aiken Chamber Young Professionals
  • 35th Annual Aiken’s Makin’
  • Equine Performing Arts Series 


Membership Services 

  • 93rd 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
  • 23rd Annual Industry Appreciation Golf Tournament
  • Ribbon Cuttings & Grand Openings 
  • 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 and e-Commerce Report

2011 Board of Directors
Executive Committee: 

Frank Thomas, Chair; Security Federal Bank

Arthur (Buzz) Rich, Chair-elect, Attorney

Brenda Stein, Secretary/Treasurer; Veracity Payment Solutions, Inc.

Carl Smith, Vice Chair Public Affairs, Smith Financial and Tax Advisory Group

Steve Wilson, Vice Chair Business and Community Development; SRP Federal Credit Union

Dr. Liz Stewart, Immediate Past Chair; Stewart and Associates, Inc.

J. David Jameson, President/CEO 

Board of Directors: 

Bart Blackwell, B & S Machine Tool, Inc.

Sally Brodie, ERA Real Estate One

Samantha Charles, Sidelines/Barn Book and Hatchaway Bridge Farms

Robert Freitas, Smith Financial and Tax Advisory Group

Dr. Gemma K. Frock, Aiken Technical College

Carl Henson, MAU

John Lindsay, Savannah River Remediation LLC

Dr. Deidre Martin, USC Aiken

John McMichael, Hutson-Etherredge Companies

Carlos Milanes, Aiken Regional Medical Centers

Liz Neal, The Hills of Cumberland Village

Andrew Siders, ACHS Insurance of Aiken

R. Clif Webb, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC

Gary Williamson, Bridgestone   

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

Tom Young, Jr., 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 (Ed) Scanlon, Manager, Equine Development