Dear Denton Business Owner:
About 2 1/2 months ago, I stepped into the role of president of your Denton Chamber of Commerce. I’ve spent the past 80-ish days or so in overdrive, trying to get a read on the pulse of the Denton-area business community. I’ve eaten in restaurants; toured some of your businesses, campuses and organizations; and sipped at least 346 cups of coffee over meetings with our staff, community leaders and business owners like yourself.
Many of you that I have met with are chamber members. Some are not. I’ve been to six or seven ribbon-cuttings, two membership lunches, two Women in Commerce events and multiple membership networking events. Some of you have told me what you love about the chamber and some of you have told me how many ways the chamber has disappointed you. It’s OK — I don’t scare easily.
Can we start fresh?
Just like in the past two articles you’ve read here (thank you, DRC), I am going to quickly remind you what a chamber of commerce does exactly. Chamber missions vary, but they all tend to focus to some degree on five primary goals:
■ Building communities that attract residents, visitors and investors (through public and private partnerships — the Economic Development arm of the chamber plays a large role here).
■ Promoting those communities. This is most commonly the function of the Convention & Visitors Bureau arm of the chamber.
■ Striving to ensure future prosperity via a pro-business climate. We want to make it easy to do business in our community!
■ Representing the unified voice of the employer community to local, state and federal governments. There’s power in numbers.
■ Providing accelerated access to resources and relationships. (Networking!)
Most chambers are led by private-sector employers, self-funded, organized around boards/committees of volunteers, and independent. They share a common ambition for sustained prosperity of their community or region, built on thriving employers. Most are ardent proponents of the free market, resisting attempts to overly burden private-sector enterprise and investment. To read more, visit ACCE.org.
Enough about us. I really have a question for you. A four-part question: When you think about your role as a business owner in this region, how would you finish the following sentence:
I care about …
■ GROWING MY BUSINESS. I want to attract quality employees. I need to tap into networks of peer professionals. I’d like to learn from subject-matter experts and have strategic conversations around common business issues. I want to grow, become more profitable and build a stronger and more resilient business.
■ VISIBILITY FOR MY BUSINESS. I’d like to increase marketing exposure and sales and generate new leads. I’d like to expand my business relationships and establish credibility in my industry and community.
■ BUILDING A BETTER BUSINESS CLIMATE. I’d like to develop relationships with policy decision-makers and help craft a pro-business agenda. Developing key talent, building our talent pipeline and giving back to our community are very important to me. Access to influencers and community leaders will help us do this.
■ INVESTING IN MY COMMUNITY. I’m interested in protecting our community assets and shaping our region’s long-term influence. I’d like to contribute to the collective impact and support organizations that make a difference. Economic development and addressing our region’s challenges are important to me.
Obviously, most of you will want all of these to be true for you. It’s likely, though, that one of these answers describes most accurately where you are as a business owner today. For many organizations, this is a road map. Identifying where you are now, and communicating that to your chamber, will help us support your success now and as you position your business to move to a new level.
When you sign up for membership in the Chamber of Commerce, our team (and an army of dedicated volunteers) becomes an extension of your team. Read back through this and sit with it. Then call me or email me and let’s have a team meeting.