When asked recently to explain the value I find in chamber membership, I needed to look no further for inspiration than the newly revised and succinct mission statement just adopted by the Denton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors last month. It is simply: Advocate, educate and collaborate for economic growth in Denton.

What does that mission mean to you and me? Actually, I find it most helpful to start at the end.

Economic growth in Denton — the end goal of all that the Chamber of Commerce does. There are a host of vocations, occupations, businesses and jobs in our area. From those who work in retail sales to education, from corporate offices to nonprofit organizations, from services offered, to industry to franchise, to everything else in between, we all benefit from economic growth in Denton. Surely we all agree that a healthy, dynamic and growing local economy is helpful for all of us and is the ultimate goal of all that the chamber does. But how can a Chamber of Commerce contribute to economic growth?

Collaborate

Defined as “to work jointly on an activity, especially to create or produce something.” Many examples of collaboration exist in the Denton Chamber of Commerce of folks, e.g., from a variety of workplaces working together on the recent Community Job Fair, or the partnership between the chamber and Denton ISD in the Adopt-a-School program, which, while welcoming new teachers to the school district this year, raised $10,000 presented to the Denton Public School Foundation for grants to teachers.

Many chamber committees are representative of various (and even “competing”) businesses working together on various projects and initiatives to improve economic growth in Denton. An individual chamber member may participate in “Chamber Collaboration” by getting to know other members and chamber staff at monthly networking lunches, membership mixers or ribbon cuttings, where other opportunities are publicized and promoted. Following the chamber on social media is another easy way to stay abreast of upcoming opportunities.

Educate

Defined as “to give instruction.” The Denton Chamber of Commerce provides too many learning opportunities to list here, including several new educational sessions added in recent months. These include monthly Government Relations updates, quarterly Lessons Learned roundtables, as well as the annual Leadership Denton program, Women in Commerce Power Hour lunches with speakers, and many, many more. An individual chamber member may participate in “Chamber Education” by regularly checking chamber resources and attending the educational events provided. Get involved, sign up, attend and learn!

Having worked our way from the end to the beginning, we look now at the last (which is actually the first) component:

Advocate

Defined as “to publicly recommend or support.” In my opinion, this aspect of the chamber mission is not only the most vital and critical, but also the least understood, valued and appreciated. Perhaps you may not even know that the staff and leadership of the Denton Chamber of Commerce are tireless advocates for you and your business. They actively and frequently advocate for a healthy business climate with local officials and on the state and national level, as well.

As advocates for business and commerce, they do indeed recommend and support a variety of components of a commerce-friendly community, including (and not limited to) transportation issues, regular review of public policies, and encouraging minimal regulations that preclude the launch and operations of a new business.

As crucial as advocacy is for economic growth in Denton, very few of us have the time to be away from our workplace to make trips to Austin or Washington, or even to meetings of the Denton City Council or Denton County Commissioners Court. Fortunately, it’s just fine for you to focus on your own business because someone from your Chamber of Commerce is advocating for you and they represent your voice when and where it is needed.

An individual chamber member may utilize the advocacy of the Chamber of Commerce by sharing a need or challenge with the staff that they may be able to address. And most importantly, understand and appreciate the value of the advocacy already provided on your behalf!

Advocate, educate and collaborate for economic growth in Denton. A worthy and valuable mission of the Denton Chamber of Commerce.

PAT SHERMAN is the vice president of community relations at DATCU and a member of the Denton Chamber of Commerce.

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