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The Chamber

2009 Program of Work

Introduction

The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce is pleased to report a successful and productive 2008.  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.

 

A Dozen 2008 Highlights:

  • Released the results of a comprehensive public opinion poll, the most in depth research on Aiken community voters ever completed.  The poll had four primary goals:
  • To evaluate the current “mood”
  • To gauge residents’ relative satisfaction regarding Aiken’s quality of life
  • To probe residents’ attitudes
  • To probe voters’ orientation toward key issues
  • Based upon this major body of research of voters’ attitudes in Aiken mentioned above, the Chamber developed several strategies in response:
         * 
    Created the Transportation Council to stay abreast of what is happening with 
             transportation issues on the local level
         * 
    Strengthened the Governmental Affairs Committee to become actively engaged in 
             those issues that impact business
         * 
    Hired a local government liaison to attend Aiken City and County governmental 
            meetings and keep the Chamber leadership informed on
    impending 
             issues/ordinances
     that impact business
  • Initiated dialogue between education and business by hosting four focus groups with Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and the business community.  Eighty-five member firms participated in the focus groups.  The dialogue gave Dr. Everitt the opportunity to implement a number of changes in the school district and provided the Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee with numerous ideas for partnering with education.
  • Launched the Young Professionals Initiative, a campaign aimed at attracting young professionals between the ages of 22 and 39 to the greater Aiken area.  The initiative includes bi-monthly networking events where young professionals can exchange business cards and interface in a business environment.
  • Initiated a four pronged approach to inform members and the community on the candidates running for South Carolina House District 81:
         * 
    Provided written answers from each candidate on specific questions related to 
           business in the Chamber’s monthly Commerce Report  
         *
    Featured the candidates at First Friday Means Business 
         *
    Reminded members to vote in the Primaries on June 10 
         *
     Reminded members to vote in the Run-off election on June 24
  •  Attained a membership participation rate of 74%. Within the chamber industry, this percentage exponentially exceeds the norm, and reflects the value members feel they receive from their membership in the Aiken Chamber.   
  •  Commissioned a study to determine the economic impact of the equine industry on the community.  The study, “An Economic Profile of Aiken County and the Economic Impact of the Equine Industry,” was completed by the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) School of Business and revealed that the equine industry’s economic impact in Aiken County tops $71.81 million.    
  •  Launched a last quarter program, a 7-Step Economic Stimulus Plan, for members to stimulate business and help drive the economy.  Seven steps over 70 days provided valuable information and promoted Chamber members.  
  • Implemented an aggressive radio advertising campaign that encouraged listeners to shop with Chamber members and directed them to the business directory of the Chamber’s website.  More than 4,000 radio spots were broadcast throughout the region from October 24 to December 24.
  • Raised $20,000 to fund “Blue Tooth” technology needed for eight Aiken County EMS ambulances.  The life saving technology allows ambulance personnel to transmit EKGs directly to the hospital's emergency department. (The County has already equipped two ambulances with a third one planned.) The fund raising effort now ensures that all Aiken County EMS ambulances are equipped with this valuable technology.
  • Launched a new Aiken Chamber website – www.aikenchamber.net – with many new and enhanced features and advertising opportunities for members.
         *
    The home page features revolving photos that showcase the community. 
         * 
    The Chamber Business Directory allows people to search and find products and
            services of Chamber members.

         * Chamber members can find pertinent information about Chamber news and 
           upcoming events as well as read the top stories that run in the monthly Commerce 
           Report.
  • Visitors can click on the “relocation” icon and access full and complete information about Aiken.
  • Over the past 24 months he Chamber’s membership has grown by 27 percent.  This means that there is more opportunity for business-to-business networking, increased clout with governmental bodies, and stronger financial resources as the Chamber promotes its members and the community.   

These achievements of 2008 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 2009.  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

 This program of work also incorporates the goals and objectives of the 2005-2006 Strategic Plan:

  • Developing opportunities for members to network and market their products and services
  • Advocating business interests in public policy and civic arenas
  • Developing relationships to assist in strengthening business opportunities
  • Assisting in marketing and promoting the positive attributes of the Aiken area to attract new business and support existing business
  • Maintaining the Chamber’s fiscal and operational integrity necessary to carry out the mission of the organization

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 2008. 

As always, I appreciate your support of the Chamber. 

Department Programming 
Public Affairs
Vice Chair of the Board, Public Affairs:  Frank Thomas; Security Federal Bank
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 2009 

  1. Create a collaborative working group with the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce concerning Sales Tax / Blue Laws 
  2. Determine how we may restructure the Governmental Affairs and Transportation Councils in 2009 
  3. Review findings of the Nuclear Workforce Summit and develop a plan to build programs that support the growth of the nuclear industry 
  4. Publish a “green” version of the annual Guide to Government  

Business and Community Development
V
ice 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 develop a ‘model’ chamber of commerce by supporting 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 minority and women owned businesses. 
  4. Create new relationships and alliances to enhance existing community program and efforts that contribute to the area’s strengths and appeal. 

New Initiatives for 2009 

  1. Build upon the 2008 Equine Economic Impact Study and hold an equine summit to develop a plan to preserve and grow Aiken County’s equine industry 
  2. Strengthen the Chamber’s Business Academy to meet members’ current needs and Feature at least one national speaker on a timely subject 

Membership Services
Chair-Elect, Membership Services:  Dr. Liz Stewart; Stewart & Associates, Inc.
Director of Membership Services:  Heath Taylor
Director of Finance and Membership Development:  Dianne Phillips 

The Membership Services department of the Aiken Chamber will work to develop a ‘model’ chamber of commerce by providing meaningful programs and services that respond to the needs of Chamber members.  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 2009 

  1. Develop and Launch Membership Survey 
  2. Add to Chamber’s value added programming:
         *
    a wellness initiative for large business
         *
    a wellness initiative for remainder of membership
  3.  Further define criteria for annual awards 
  4. Create a “green” version of the Chamber’s monthly Commerce Report

Administrative
Chair of the Board:  Joe Lewis; Savannah River Banking Company
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

 Maximize the Chamber’s fiscal integrity through the use of financial best practices and annual audits of quality records. 

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

New Initiatives for 2009

  1. Continue to enhance communications efforts with members and the community through the monthly Commerce Report and regular member updates from the President/CEO 

35 Ongoing Model Programs & Initiatives

Public Affairs

  • State of Our Community Luncheon
  • CSRA Leadership Trip to Washington, DC
  • Governmental Affairs Committee
  • Workforce Development Committee
    • New Educators Event
    • Youth Leadership Recognition
    • Welcome Back to College Campaign
  • Transportation Council
  • Business Advocacy
  • Guide to Government publication
  • Competitiveness Agenda – South Carolina Chamber

Business and Community Development

  • Small Business Development
  • Women In Business Program
  • Young Professionals Initiative
  • SRNL Initiative
  • 33rd Aiken’s Makin’
  • “All About Aiken” Orientation Program

Membership Services

  • 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
  • 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

2009 Board of Directors

Executive Committee:
Joe E. Lewis, Chair; Savannah River Banking Co.
Dr. Liz K. Stewart, Chair-elect; Stewart and Associates, Inc.
Cindy Meares, Secretary/Treasurer; Elliott Davis, LLC
Frank Thomas, Vice Chair Public Affairs, Security Federal Bank
Dr. Deidre Martin, Vice Chair Business and Community Development; USCA
R. Keith Wood, Immediate Past Chair; URS – Washington Division
J. David Jameson, CEO/President 

Board of Directors:
Reginal B. Barner, Aiken Housing Authority and CDIC
Dr. Sam Bhattacharyya, Savannah River National Laboratory
Sally Brodie, ERA Real Estate One
Samantha Charles, Sidelines and Hatchaway Bridge Farms
Dr. Gemma K. Frock, Aiken Technical College
Tony Marchman, South Carolina Metal Products
Dr. Deidre Martin, University of South Carolina Aiken
Carlos Milanes, Aiken Regional Medical Centers
Liz H. Neal, Regency Hospice
Andrew Siders, VistaBank
Brenda Stein, Veracity Payment Solutions, Inc.
Mike Uhle, Bridgestone Firestone SC
Jeffrey B. Wallace, Aiken Standard
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:
Cynthia A. Delaney, Director, Public Affairs and Operations
Dianne Phillips, Director, Finance & Membership Development
Amanda Taylor, Information Services Coordinator
Heath Taylor, Director, Membership Services
Gary Allington, Local Government Liaison
Michael Lupfer, Director, Member Relations