Chamber Blog

The New Year will Bring New Strategy at the Chamber

Posted by Susan Spears,December 19, 2018

As we near the end of the year, it is tempting to allow the endless array of festive gatherings take priority over the year-end tasks we must undertake in order to best prepare for the future.

As business leaders, we must make time to review and prepare. It is our responsibility to ask ourselves: What went right at our company this year? What went wrong? What surprised us? What was easier than we ever imagined? What are our future threats? What are we able to invest in? Who made our successes happen? Who is holding us back? Who deserves more recognition? Who can we invest in?

As you think about those questions, I suggest you change the order, and place the “who” first. The success or failures in your business are better, or worse, depending on the teams you’ve put in place to represent your organization. Hiring, developing, and sometimes removing talent is one of the biggest challenges we all share in common, no matter the industry. It is critical that business leaders make time to invest in each of those areas.

The Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to build relationships and create competitive advantages for a healthy business environment. Our professional staff is a lean team with a large program of work that supports the region’s vibrant business community. For the past several years, we have experienced a significant time of transformation - which has been both rewarding and challenging.

Our top policy priority continues to be the transportation crisis in our region, which is the leading threat to our future prosperity and to our local quality of life. We invested in talent and time in order to become the leading transportation advocate for the region. We invited many stakeholders to join us in the fight. We’ve made progress, yet our needs are so significant we are nowhere near being able to shift this priority.

We’ve spent time reviewing event and meeting attendance. In the past five years, our community has experienced an influx of new events and meetings that simply did not exist before. We are also more connected via social media, which affects how people choose to “network.” This is a wonderful thing—our region is effervescent, people are connecting and business is occurring.

For the chamber, it’s a shift. In our 102 years, we’ve been considered the “go-to” for entity producing these events and meetings. Our calendar since 2010 has had nearly 300 events and 150 internal committee meetings annually. This is great, but as more community event options compete for people’s limited time, it is not sustainable.

In 2019, our intent is to reduce the events and meetings by nearly half. For example, instead of 12 breakfast “round tables” with 15–30 attendees, these will be held quarterly, with relevant speakers, member recognition, and upwards of 100 attendees.

We will ramp up our advocacy role. We will strengthen our signature program, Leadership Fredericksburg. We will offer more support to our Next Generation members, and we will dedicate more time to partnering with others to support important workforce initiatives.

We will focus on several key areas that our members have told us are important: business connections, leadership development, influence, advocacy and workforce development.

Our Board of Directors approved a new strategic plan that will guide this work. We are energized and prepared to begin the next phase of our transformation.

Our team will enjoy time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I hope your business model will allow you and your colleagues to experience some “down” time over the holidays, too. Work, reflect, plan, prepare, execute.

Goodbye, 2018! 2019, here we come!

Susan Spears, President & CEO of Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce

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