Worldwide Media Relations
Delivered by Chamber of Commerce President
for Contractors Association
(written by Steven R. Van Hook)
THE YEAR AHEAD
For us to talk about the upcoming year, we must do that within the context of the year gone by and the next few years to come. The new year for the Chamber will carry on our productive work of the past year, and we will continue that work in a concentrated effort over the next three years.
Under our past President, the Chamber performed a comprehensive survey of our assets we have supporting us in our work to strengthen the business community. We are now taking that review of our assets, and our programs, and our committees to design a course of action that will take us all the way through 1996.
By approaching our mission with this long-range view, we can ensure our efforts will not get bogged down in the details that can sidetrack us in our day-to-day work.
In our big picture, we will target our efforts at four key priorities. All our projects and programs for 1994 will directly support four primary goals:
Number one: Greater commitment and involvement to support tourism development while improving the image of the Santa Maria Valley, increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax for the city, and increasing the hospitality membership in the Chamber.
Number two: Greater commitment to supporting retail sales while encouraging government cooperation with retail merchants, and increasing retail industry membership in the Chamber.
Number three: Promote new business-to-business opportunities, provide on-going education for business, and assist members in dealing with government.
Number four: Support industry efforts to deal with government issues within the Chambers focus priorities, support and communicate the activities of other organizations involved with government issues, and promote the perception of industrys value to the local economy.
All of these are worthy goals, and could well take the full three years of focused effort weve dedicated to them. But goals will never become reality unless we have a solid plan of action to bring them about.
I can sum up our plan of action with five action words: organization, inclusion, representation, communication, and action.
Organization: we have streamlined our committees and issue process. This is an ongoing effort enabling us to address important business issues in a timely manner, while ensuring our positions are well researched and represent the best interests of businesses and our community on the whole
Inclusion: when you look at the diversity of businesses in our Chamber membership -- about 1,000 of them -- you can appreciate how difficult it is to take a position on some issues. Some steps might benefit certain businesses, while costing others. To help ensure our actions serve the greatest good, its essential we have as many different perspectives represented on our committees as possible. We especially need to see greater representation by businesses in retail, tourism, hospitality, industry and agriculture. We are working to bring in new Chamber members in these areas ... that is a top priority for 1994.
Representation: once a business has been brought into our membership fold, we have to make sure their views are represented in our issue process. We cant afford to be perceived as a back-room organization, where only a handful of members frames the issues and positions. New members are hard to come by. Once included in our membership, all members have to feel their viewpoints matter, and their issues are being addressed. Some in the community may like to point at us as an elitist organization. We must demonstrate that we are not.
Communication: too often were too busy doing what we do to take a minute and tell others about it. We need to keep ourselves informed, and we need to communicate our message to the greater community -- which also thrives or dies based on how well business is doing. Well be developing our communication media -- both internal and external. Well be looking to cooperate with local print and broadcast media to help get our important message out. And we will continue to communicate our concerns to our government representatives, and we will continue our information exchanges and networking with other local business organizations.
Action: by using these tools -- organization, inclusion, representation and communication -- we will make sure our action is the most effective possible with our limited means. Like a laser, if we focus our efforts, well find we can accomplish remarkable results with even less energy and depletion of our resources.
The Chambers mission is to promote a favorable economic climate while making the Santa Maria Valley a better place to live and work. This is a mission we bear not only as members of the Chamber of Commerce, or of the other worthwhile business organizations serving the region. But this is our duty as good citizens so when our brief stewardship is done, we can say we left the center of the best a little better than we found it.