Amherst Chamber of CommerceAmherst Chamber of Commerce

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU - OUR MEMBER?


One of the reasons the Amherst Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest business organizations in the state is because we respond to the needs of the business community. Our efforts to maintain a dialogue with our members, representing firms of all sizes, has distinguished us as an organization that provides a tangible return on your membership investment. 


Another characteristic that we focus on is keeping the lines of communication open so we can adjust to marketplace fluctuations. When the stock market tumbled and the economy imploded a couple of years back, we immediately launched workshops providing pro bono professional support by lawyers, accountants, marketing specialists, banks and lenders, human resource specialists and others to assist our small and mid-size business members with the expertise they needed to sustain their business during those tough economic times. 


Simultaneous to that, we work with our public officials at all levels of government to express the concerns of our constituents and encourage public policy that would assist them and provide them with the resources to grow and prosper. While we certainly don't think that the Amherst Chamber of Commerce was responsible for the economic revitalization that the region is experiencing, we do believe that we played a role. 


We don't want to be complacent and maintain the status quo. We want to continue to diversify and extend our services, but to be market-driven, we need your input.  


The number one reason new members state as the reason they join the Chamber is Networking. Usually that means they want to increase their sales, grow their market base or meet people that can help them personally or professionally. We think we have that covered, but we want you to tell us how we are doing. 


There are four ProNet groups that meet twice a month and are industry exclusive. They have been wildly popular. Should we add some groups; should they meet at the Chamber or offsite; should we expand beyond the breakfast hour? 


Over 1,000 people have attended our Business After Hours in the past 12 months. They are always held on the third Tuesday of every month. Should we change that or offer a Business Before Hours? 


Our Public Policy Committee works diligently all year long to review public policy and pending issues that impact our members and the region at large.  We vet the issues and reach out to our members to determine consensus opinion - pro or con.  Some issues like the NYS Utility Surcharge - 18A we have had some impact on.  Some like the Scaffold Law which increases the cost of construction projects that require extensive insurance coverage unique to NYS has been a long battle with little movement.  


We continue to advocate at the local, state and Federal levels because we understand the impact some of these issues have on our members.  But, we wonder how important our representation is to you. Are we communicating it appropriately? Are you happy to have us working on your behalf?  Do you want to get involved?  We are non-partisan - we don't endorse candidates. We work with our public officials on specific issues - sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. But we are always respectful and professional. So, tell us - how much should we focus on public policy and what issues are important to you?


The Chamber has also devoted many resources to mobilizing a Young Professionals group - Emerging Business Leaders. We believe this group is important to the sustainability of the organization but also to the continued revival of the region. Their rules are a little different than we are used to but we are acclimating. We think this group is not only valuable to the young guns themselves, but also to the firms that are looking for employee bench strength, an aging workforce or planning on expanding. Do you agree and what recommendations do you have for our programming and marketing of this initiative?


The above is just a sampling of what the Chamber staff works on each and every day. We want to hear from you. Tell us what we are missing; what we should expand or share with us any good ideas you have to make a great chamber even better. Together we can prosper!


Comments or suggestions can be emailed to me at cdipirro@amherst.org


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