12/16/11 The month of December provides us with valuable time to reflect on the past year and get things in order to start the New Year on the right foot. My reflections on my time as Chamber President leave me filled with pride and an overwhelming feeling of optimism. This year has been nothing less than a smashing success.
My pride and optimism begins as I look through the financials. Sadly, due to the loss of private and public funding, the Chamber has been operating with two-thirds (2/3) less yearly revenue since 2010. The Board of Directors has fought to not only keep the Chamber afloat but to increase its sustainability by increasing Chamber services and value. As I said at the Annual Chamber Dinner, the income and expenses were highly scrutinized and reorganized by myself and Chamber Treasurer, Dan Weidner. We can all be proud that the Chamber is now operating and thriving completely independent of any outside sources of income. In fact, the Chamber’s operating account has grown more than five (5) times its size since 2010. The good news is we have found a favorable grove, walking the line between increasing income and efficiently decreasing our expenses. Bottom-line, the Board of Directors have put this organization on track to make some big improvements and thrive for years to come.
In 2011, the Board of Directors worked extremely hard to increase the value of your membership; including an updated web site, newsletter and weekly events email blast. As well as, an updated Restaurant/Lodging guide, Apartment guide, continued daily business referrals and networking opportunities such as the new Networking Breakfast and the creation of the Young Adult Professionals group. We also revamped our Plymouth relocation packets, conducted a nicely attended Spaghetti dinner and created a community events calendar.
Our increased activity and pure Board determination has produced astounding results. In this economic climate the average Chamber will lose membership, or at the very best be lucky to see their membership flat line. Remarkably, as of December, the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce has added thirty-four (34) new members with a net increase of twenty-eight (28). This incredible number, more than three new members a month can be credited to the hard work of our office manager, Betty Glaub-Gibbs and our Ambassador’s Committee, ran by Anna Corbett. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, once again proving our Chamber is a wonderful value to the community.
Please take note, this refreshed Chamber approach will not cease in 2011. I have agreed to continue as Board President in 2012, with the full executive committee being finalized via election later this month. Furthermore, on the slate for early 2012 is the inaugural Chamber membership directory and a new member-to-member discount services membership program. Both items are sure to provide great benefit to each and every Chamber member.
Lastly, our analysis on increasing our income streams leaves us staring directly at membership fees. It has been many years since our last dues increase; in fact, our records show it has been more than twenty-five (25) years or more. As with any business, it becomes necessary to increase dues to match current and future expenses accrued to continue the progress of this wonderful community resource; with that said, the Board of Directors has approved a dues increase beginning in 2012. With your continued support this increase puts us in a favorable position to do many things, so I thank you in advance. (Dues based on full-time employees: 1-10 at $150, 11-20 at $300, 21-30 at $450, 31-40 at $600, 40+ at $750, and Non-profits/individuals at $75)
The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is proud to offer memberships that are both affordable and valuable. As well as, provide additional ways to efficiently and inexpensively advertise through multiple vehicles of media. At the end of the day, the increased rates are still more than half the average of all Northern Indiana Chambers.
Before I conclude this month’s message I would be remiss if I didn’t thank some of our excellent volunteers and friends of the Chamber. Thank you Dan Weidner for your continued support as acting Treasurer, your leadership and guidance have been greatly appreciated. Thank you Jan Garrison (outgoing Board Member) for nineteen (19) straight years of Board participation. Thank you Randy Burkholder, Susie Crump, Mary Raimondi, Howard Gibbs and Shelley Heiden for everything you do, your volunteerism should be the example in which everyone lives by.
In conclusion, we had a great year in 2011 and the best is yet to come. I will continue to lead this organization on the path of financial sustainability while increasing the value of your membership. I am truly amazed at the continued support this community provides to its valued resources. I will do everything in my power to make sure we give twice as much support as we get and hopefully share some great time and experiences on the way.