2008 Program of Work

Introduction

 The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce is pleased to report a successful and productive 2007.  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 2007 Highlights:

  • Formed a Blue Ribbon Panel to evaluate best practices for positioning Aiken to take advantage of the success of the Savannah River National Laboratory. 
  • Formed a Blue Ribbon Panel to explore and develop avenues to grow and retain young business professionals in the Aiken area. 
  • Created an Equine Industry Task Force to determine if the Chamber and the business community are providing the goods and services the industry needs. 
  • Launched the first “State of Our Community” luncheon on the current status and future plans for the community. 
  • Developed and launched an Aiken orientation program – All About Aiken – to assist businesses and the community in understanding Aiken’s culture and personality, as well as the many working relationships that affect the community’s overall quality of life. 
  • Created the Women in Business series to offer enhanced professional development opportunities for professional women. 
  • Re-tooled the 31st annual Aiken’s Makin’ so that the event strengthened its appeal as a high quality arts and craft show. 
  • Restructured and launched the Chamber’s 89th Annual Meeting, featuring entertainment along with the Greater Good Awards.  
  • Launched “First Friday Means Business,” a new breakfast program featuring timely information for the business community with strategic speakers and updates from community leaders. 
  • Transformed the Minority Business Development Conference into an initiative that included a Small Business Development Summit. 
  • Generated more than 343,311 member referrals through the Chamber’s website, which received more than 1.3 million hits for the year. 
  • Continuously encouraged member participation in Chamber events that resulted in record breaking crowds – total attendance for Chamber events exceeded 6,700 during 2007.

The cumulative action of these 12 highlights resulted in the Chamber growing by 24 percent in 2007, and for the first time in the organization’s 90-year history, reaching a milestone of 1,000 business members.  This achievement tells me that members, old and new, value our current direction of meeting their short-term needs while preparing for Aiken’s future economy. 

In 2008, to meet members’ real time needs, we will:

  • Re-tool small business development initiatives.
  • Hire a qualified person to serve as the “eyes and ears” of business at local government meetings.

In 2008, to prepare for Aiken’s future economy, we will:

  • Begin applying the recommendations of the SRNL Blue Ribbon Panel, which seeks ways the community and SRNL can support each other’s success.
  • Begin applying the recommendations of the Young Professional Blue Ribbon Panel, which will aid in the attraction and retention of young professionals in our community.
  • Focus on Aiken’s opportunity to be a leading community in America’s “Nuclear Renaissance,” which could protect and potentially grow our community’s talent pool.

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:  Liz Stewart; Stewart and Associates, Inc.
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 2008

  1. Create a process for engaging the membership and community at large in developing “big picture” ideas and strategies for the future that captures:
         * the economic value of the Savannah River National Laboratory
         * the community’s wealth of intellectual property
         * the attraction and retention of Aiken’s young professionals.
  2. Strengthen the value and collaborative effort of the CSRA Leadership Group’s annual advocacy trip to Washington DC by:
         * enhancing the logistics and planning process
         * updating the process of identifying issues that would benefit the economy of the CSRA and would require federal support (through changes in legislation or through funding)
  3. Create the “Aiken Chamber Transportation Alliance” to stay in the forefront of transportation issues that affect the community and to provide feedback to the appropriate leadership and decision makers.
  4. Hire, on a contract basis, a qualified person to serve as the “eyes and ears” of business at local government meetings.

Business and Community Development
Vice Chair, Business and Community Development:  Cindy Meares; Elliott Davis, LLC  

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 2008

  1. Create a Blue Ribbon Panel to develop a business case for Aiken’s opportunity to own America’s “Nuclear Renaissance.”
  2. Conduct an economic impact study estimating the magnitude and economic impact associated with the overall equine industry in Aiken County.  The study will be conducted by professors at the University of South Carolina Aiken and will serve as a benchmark.
  3. Restructure the Small Business Development Summit to model the “Women in Business” format, offering winter and summer series featuring valuable and timely information for small business.
  4. Create the “Young Professionals Initiative” that builds on the recommendations of the 2007 Blue Ribbon Panel on the attraction and retention of young professionals.
  5. Create the “Savannah River National Laboratory Initiative” that builds on the recommendations of the 2007 Blue Ribbon Panel.
  6. Continue quality improvement of the Aiken orientation program, All About Aiken, by holding a focus group to evaluate the program.

Membership Services
Chair-Elect, Membership Services:  Joe Lewis; Savannah River Banking Company
Director of Membership Services:  Tracie McBride

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 2008

  1. Unveil “Welcome Aiken,” the annual newcomer guide and membership directory.  The publication will have a new format and will highlight Aiken’s attributes and promote Chamber members. (January 2008)
  2. Build upon current strategies for member retention to ensure sustainability of current members while attracting new members.

Administrative
Chair of the Board:  Keith Wood; Washington Savannah River 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

  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 2008

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

Ongoing “Model” Programs & Initiatives

Public Affairs

  • State of Our Community Luncheon
  • Competitiveness Agenda with the South Carolina Chamber
  • Business Advocacy
  • Guide to Government publication
  • New Educators Event
  • Youth Leadership Recognition
  • Welcome Back to College Campaign

Business and Community Development

  • Small Business Development
  • Women In Business Programs
  • 32nd 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 
  • 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

2008 Board of Directors

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

Board of Directors:
Reginal B. Barner, Aiken Housing Authority and CDIC
Samantha Charles, Sidelines and Hatchaway Bridge Farms
Pat Cunning, Woodside Development
Dr. Gemma K. Frock, Aiken Technical College
Jeff R. Howell, Houndslake Country Club
Dr. Deidre Martin, University of South Carolina Aiken
Liz H. Neal, Regency Hospice
Rick N. Osbon, Osbon’s Laundry & Cleaners
William P. Patton (Pat), BellSouth
Ed Presnell, SRP Federal Credit Union
Clayton C. Quattlebaum, South Carolina Electric & Gas
Mike Uhle, Bridgestone Firestone SC
Jeffrey B. Wallace, Aiken Standard
Dr. G. Todd Wright, Savannah River National Laboratory
Tom Young, Jr., Whetstone, Myers, Perkins & Young, LLC

Appointed Board Members: 
Fred E. Humes, Economic Development Partnership
J. Clay Killian, County of Aiken
Roger LeDuc, City of Aiken
Arthur W. “Buzz” Rich, Attorney
Jesse T. Risher, USDA – Rural Development

Chamber Professional Staff:
Cynthia A. Delaney, Director, Public Affairs and Operations
Tracie H. McBride, Director, Membership Services
Dianne Phillips, Director, Finance & Membership Development
Amanda Taylor, Information Services Coordinator
Michael Lupfer, Director, Member Relations

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