06/06/11 The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce is moving full force ahead after taking time to look at the nuts and bolts of their operation, according to board President Ryan Jessen. When the structure of the funding changed in 2009, long-time executive Director Doug Anspach left the position. Previously funding had come from the City of Plymouth (PEDC), PIDCO and chamber membership. When the city moved in other directions in terms of economic development two years ago and PIDCO also pulled out a year ago, the board decided to go back to the very foundation of the Chamber. Rather than hiring a new director, they chose to “relearn” the business, review income and expenses, create a budget, and then committed to following the budget.
Jessen said, “Once we had our foundation laid, we could move on to our goals for 2011.”
For the next two years, Dee Brown served as the board president and kept the momentum going. Jessen had served as the board secretary and moved up into the top leadership role.
In seems their hard work paid off. Jessen said, “Attendance at the Chamber banquet this year was up 30 percent. With 110 in attendance, it was the biggest turnout ever.”
Betty Glaub-Gibbs mans the office each day as the office manager and is the first point of contact for information about the Chamber and membership.
Jessen said, “We know our business and thus we are more aware and intoned to what our membership wants and needs.”
The mission statement of the Chamber reads as follows: “The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce is a catalyst for the growth and prosperity of our members and community, promoting education excellence and coordinating action of community importance.”
Part of the newly defined 2011 strategic plan calls for identifying tangible and intangible benefits of membership. They are looking to the roles of the Ambassador Committee and Chamber staff to promote membership growth.
Parts of the marketing plan are directed towards increasing visibility via digital marketing, newsletters, press releases, advertisements and emails. They also intend to continue to the practice of participating in ribbon cuttings.
Jessen said the board is excited about the participation in the Young Adult Professional group and plans to continue to provide educational seminars each quarter. Other networking groups include the Plymouth Business Connections. “We also want to develop a strong presence with Plymouth Community Schools to identify and promote opportunities for students to become active with the business community.” Jessen said.
Speaking to current Chamber members, Jessen said, “When you joined the Chamber, you hired all of us to work for you and your business. We accept this responsibility and would like nothing more than to help you any way we can.”
Carol Anders Correspondent