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Commerce & Economic Development

Every business community needs a voice. That voice generally is the local chamber of commerce and/or the economic development agency/department of the local government. In this blog series, we shall discuss and share, what are the bare minimum activities and initiatives, a chamber of commerce and/or an economic development agency ought to do, in order to be the voice for its community and serve its constituents.

The 7 (seven) key areas of focus for a Chamber of Commerce are as follows:

1. Legislative Advocacy

Represent the businesses to advocate appropriate legislation and ensure there is ease of doing business, and removal of unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles.

2. Resource Access

Provide resources that are internally focused such as office equipment to business community or information about government programs to businesses, statistical information, industry trends, sentiment analysis etc.

3. Network Development

  • B2B (Business to Business)- Help business network with other businesses.
  • B2C (Business to Consumer)- Help businesses get access to their customer base.
  • B2G (Business to Government)- Help business get access to government programs such as grants, loans, funding opportunities.
  • B2W (Business to Workforce) – Help the workforce and business leaders connect.
  • B2E (Business to Education) – Help the education and academic sector and businesses in the region connect with each others

To enable all of the above, a robust website and social media presence is critical.

4. Leadership Development

Create an environment conducive for future leaders to learn and shine through the chamber’s activities. Here are some ideas:

  • Become a hub for Toast Masters and related public speaking activities and professional development
  • Encourage local community to write blogs on the chamber of commerce website
  • Organize research paper competitions for youth and for 30-under-30 folks
  • Create a mentorship program
  • Create a career transition program

5. Economic Development

  • Retention – of existing programs and resources that work.
  • Expansion – of chamber activities as needs of the business community and citizens evolve.
  • Workforce – provide various insights and workforce development initiatives, including futuristic education in various vocations, arts, trades and professions.
  • Infrastructure – ensure that infrastructure is a NET-enabler for the regions and constituents and lack thereof is not a bottleneck to economic development.

6. Marketing & Advertising

Online

  1. Website: Have a vibrant website that serves the audience and constituents. Ensure there is proper branding, responsiveness, content variety that serves the visitors and makes them return and engage more with the Chamber.
  2. Social Media: Have a robust social media presence on the following platforms at the very least, and any other as required.
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Facebook
    3. Twitter
    4. Instagram
  3. Print Media: Have a robust (cross promotion) alliance with your local paper(s), so that in every print that goes out, there is an article written or a prominently placed advertisement on how to reach the Chamber of Commerce via the website or in person.

Live Events / Webinars

  • Organize a weekly meet and greet, either in person or via ZOOM/Video Conferencing during the Covid-19 pandemic times.

7. Community Promotions – (the office or visitor center)

Make sure a community center or visitor center or the office of the Chamber is the most inviting place. The goal is to make the office of the Chamber of commerce the Go-To place whenever any person thinks of words such as:

  • business or commerce
  • networking
  • startup or self employment
  • cashflow, funding or finance or loans or grants
  • marketing or sales or customers or revenue
  • export or import
  • regulation or compliance or law
  • “how do I do _________ for my business”
  • what kind of jobs are available in my area
  • where can I advertise for free to get great local talent, find a business partner, find ________

How do you measure success:

There is a fundamental belief in management that if something doesn’t get measured it is not getting done; or if something cant be measured, it does not need to be done.

Therefore, we believe that identifying the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant for success of each initiative or area of operation is very crucial. Once the KPIs are identified, measuring them as granularly as possible on a periodic basis is a must.

The frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually) of such measurement may vary based on the initiative and various other operational parameters and constraints, from time to time.

Once you have data for at least 3-5 cycles, you would know what to do with it, and how to analyze, plan, execute, change and repeat.


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Additional Resources

Below is a resource in British Columbia, Canada that aims to serve such businesses, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Executives.

For more details visit them on www.BCMindReader.com


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