I get asked that question a lot, and the best way I can answer is to tell you about my four and a half years with the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce.
Five years ago I was close to retiring from Walmart, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I retired. Then I was asked to interview with the Chamber. At first I wasn’t interested, but then the more I thought about it, I thought, “Why not? Here is a chance to give something back to my community.” I also remembered what we were taught at Walmart about chambers. Sam Walton had told all of his store managers to join their chambers, but don’t just sit on the board, get involved in committees and make a difference. I did that in the four stores that I was in throughout my thirteen years with Walmart. So that message helped me to make up my mind. Also, Mr. Sam was the President of his local Chamber of Commerce.
The first thing we did after I started with the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce was to build our chamber by adding members. That in turn allowed us to have a state-of-the-art website, a brand new newsletter that gets rave reviews, and a Facebook page that is nearing 5000 fans and is available to any of our members to announce anything going on in their business. It is also available to inform the public of anything going on in the community. We also added Brown Bag Workshops on various topics, Business Roundtables to focus on issues that are important to our members, and Cash Mobs to help our local businesses.
Our Chamber is composed of 475 members representing businesses, non-profits, service-oriented organizations, restaurants and more. We represent members from within a 50-mile radius, and by doing this we have the income to accomplish all the things I mentioned above.
The Chambers employs myself and three staff, and we all are part-time with no benefits. We do this because we believe in the Bradford area, and in making it a better place to live for our members and their families.
We have a member-to-member discount program that applies to all of our members’ employees, and if you go to our page at: http://www.bradfordchamber.com/Member-2-Member-Discounts.aspx you will see that we have over 50 members that will give their fellow Chamber members a discount. We also offer the Bradford Gift Certificate program, which keeps thousands of dollars in spending in our local community every year.
We have an insurance programs through Chamber Choice that can benefit your employees and your business.
Finally, and this is the most important, by joining the Chamber our members show their support for an organization that is always promoting the area that most of your employees live in, and that support helps us continue to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.
Over the past three years we have purchased Christmas lights for downtown, had the gazebo painted, and decorated it for July 4th and Christmas. We are currently soliciting for funds to purchase steel benches for Veteran’s Square that will be made by a local fabricator. Along with Anita Dolan, Main Street Manager, we will be re-doing Veteran’s Square for Memorial Day, and will be planting dozens of roses in the area where the tree fell last year. Why are we doing this? Because we want to honor our Veterans, and to beautify our downtown. This truly fits into our mission: To Promote and Support our Business Community!
If you have any ideas for our chamber, stop on down to 121 Main Street, have a cup of coffee with us. and let us know what you’re thinking!
We are Bradford Proud!
See you next Friday!