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Granroth gives State of the Chamber address
SMOKEY POINT — The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce is on the grow, according to Chamber President Kristen Granroth during her State of the Chamber address at the Medallion Hotel in Smokey Point on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
“This past year has been exciting and stressful, but mostly really good,” said Granroth, who reported that the Chamber achieved a record-high membership number of 212 in 2013, up from 189 in 2012 and 138 in 2011. “This is a clear sign that people are seeing the increased value of the Chamber, as we not only recruit new members, but also welcome back old members.”
Granroth explained that the Chamber paid heed to the feedback it received from its last end-of-year survey, to try and give Chamber members more of what they want.
“You wanted more networking opportunities and more direct information about our business community, as well as the challenges facing it,” Granroth said. “We got rid of a lot of the fluff, like the motivational speakers, to focus more on matters that directly impact your businesses and your community, which also helps us do a better job of promoting your businesses.”
To that end, Granroth noted that the Chamber has taken to social media channels to promote not only its businesses, but also various events in the local community.
“We’re regularly updating our Facebook page so that all that information is right at your fingertips,” Granroth said of the site at www.facebook.com/ASPchamber.
Granroth cited the production of a profitable Chamber Directory for its members this year, and while she acknowledged that the Chamber offices’ transition to part-time staffing is still in the works, she touted it as a more streamlined model and a fiscally responsible move that serves as “an example of changes to come to keep us strong.”
Another paradigm shift in operations that Granroth reported is that the Chamber’s planning for 2014 will be undertaken by its entire Board of Directors, rather than just a smaller committee.
“That way, we can pull from our entire toolbox of professionals to make the best decisions for the ongoing strength of the Chamber,” Granroth said. “In 2013, the Chamber saw more than its share of financial drama, but lessons have been learned, and changes are underway to strengthen our future.”
As evidence of the Chamber’s improved financial status, Granroth predicted that its only debit’s remaining balance of $1,000 is set to be paid in full by the end of this year, and stated that the Chamber’s intention is not to maintain any debit from that point forward.
“Again, our entire Board has been included in the budget committee this year, so we’re getting all of our great minds together to ensure that we have a solid financial future,” Granroth said. “We need to stay solvent, and we want to keep that process completely transparent.”
As part of its refined focus on business development within the community, Granroth described how the Chamber has streamlined its events by ceding the annual Fourth of July parade to the Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, which now serve as that event’s sole sponsor, as well as by letting go of events such as its carnival and barbecue cook-off.
“Those events weren’t really growing our businesses, so we decided that we weren’t the right home for them,” Granroth said. “This lets us renew our commitment to our primary mission.”
By contrast, Granroth boasted of the ever-escalating attendance numbers of the Chamber’s Business After Hours meetings, which take place on the third Thursday of every month at various businesses throughout Arlington and Smokey Point.
“Those have been really productive,” Granroth said. “They’re providing more and more value for both the host businesses and those who attend. Not only are they fun, but they’re the single best way to get to know your local businesses, making it that much easier to send business their way and receive it from them in turn.”
Granroth closed her remarks by thanking not only Chamber Vice President Julie Morse, Chamber Manager Mary Jane Harmon and the Board of Directors, but also the Chamber Ambassadors, who include Renae James, James Eubanks, Michele Wiley, Nancy Winkley, Nola Smith and Carrie Byrum.
“Our Ambassadors are all volunteers, and have been absolutely crucial to the success of the Chamber,” Granroth said. “Despite the hard times, 2013 was a good year for growth at the Chamber, and we’re excited to partner with our businesses in moving forward.”