By Marthe Stinton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:35 AM CST
Founded in 1979, The Colony Chamber of Commerce has seen an immense amount of change in its lifetime. From minor setbacks to economic recessions and changes in leadership, the chamber has survived and is now in the process of changing its focus to hyper-local consumerism. Scott Carpenter, president of The Colony Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has moved in a direction to help local businesses succeed as the economy continues to rebound.
"We have had struggles as have the majority of chambers throughout the U.S.," he said. "With a combination of the economy and many
businesses relying on internet marketing and social media, businesses tend to forget the impact of face-to-face networking and the importance of being active in their chamber." Because of that, the chamber had to downsize or, as Carpenter put it, "right size," in 2010 by selling its building and relocating to one of its major investors, Comerica Bank. After its relocation, the chamber lowered its membership rates and boosted networking events to attract local businesses. And so far, Carpenter said, it's working. "Our networking events have been a great success with a growing number of attendees and new members participating, which we are very excited about," he said. "Our board is made up of a great team of all-volunteer individuals who are not only incredible leaders but dedicated to the chamber, community and helping our local businesses succeed by doing all we can to help promote them in the local area." The chamber
has also been reaching out to home-based businesses and has created marketing packages to help members advertise and get the word out. City Manager Troy Powell sees the importance of the business community and supporting those local businesses that have created a name for themselves in the city. "A chamber can be a very effective tool in helping small businesses communicate with their local and state governments, as well as providing a valuable tool for strengthening the local business community," he said. Carpenter said the
chamber has also focused on promoting itself as a resource for finding local and surrounding area businesses. "We've achieved this through several different marketing mediums, from print ads to digital billboards [and] referring people to the chamber website to find a business or service," he said. "Our chamber is still strong and active and sensitive to the changing needs of our members. We want our members to tell us what they need from us and we will respond." One way the chamber is helping showcase local businesses is
through The Colony Connection, which was once put together by both the city and chamber, though was taken over by the chamber this winter. "The Colony Connection magazine is a staple in our community and has been going strong for seven years now," Carpenter said. "It's by far the most effective advertising medium, not only because it is well-received, respected and recognized, but also because it reaches every home in the city. There is no other existing locally produced publication that does that. It brings our community together and
highlights our area's offerings, resources, growth - and just overall keeps residents informed and up-to-date. We have an outstanding community, and I believe The Colony Connection magazine reflects that." Carpenter said since the chamber is now the primary sponsor of the publication, it will provide the opportunity to feature and highlight more businesses, individuals and community contributors while still offering an events calendar, money saving discounts and fun articles for readers. Some of the chamber's prominent goals for 2013 are to host more activities and events, establish a more visible presence in the community, get its members to work together more, and continue
to grow the membership, Carpenter said. In 2013 the chamber will be alternating the times of events and Friday Focuses so everyone has an opportunity to network depending on their schedule. The board of directors has already outlined upcoming events for 2013 that will not only offer businesses visibility but also benefit some of our local community outreach programs. Several of these events will be open to the community as well.