Well this is it, my final Chairman’s column! I must confess that when I first accepted the honor to be the “captain of the ship” about a year ago, I had no idea how quickly it would sail by. Although the time commitment was sometimes more than I expected (thank you Catherine for your understanding), it has been a labor of love. It has been an honor to serve the business community and work with such an amazing and dedicated staff, as well as, a highly engaged board.
Looking back over the past year we have had a few first, we have accomplished a lot and, as we chart our course towards the future, we have some clear direction.
Some of the highlights from the past year include:
The launch of “Listening to Business” in 2016 – C.J. Rhyne (Business Retention/Expansion Specialist) has been leading the effort on this program with much success. By meeting with and listening to over 100 businesses in various industry clusters, we have been able to start to identify common issues and concerns and help work towards solutions. Because we are listening to businesses in various industries, we have connected different local business with each other in a way that has both saved jobs and increased local jobs.
Our first ever Total Resource Campaign (TRC) – Sometimes when you do something for the first time you are not quite sure what you are getting into and Trisha Martinez (Membership & Marketing Director) lead the way to success on this effort. Our TRC was more than another fundraising campaign, it was a way for our members to better plan and leverage their sponsorship dollars and have a more direct impact on the focus of the Chamber. The goal was $175K of new sponsorship and membership and through the hard work of a team of volunteers and the staff we made it!
Legal challenge to the GVDD fee/tax – After the Chamber staff and board spent a considerable amount of time trying to reach a compromise with the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) on the fees/tax they were going to impose and have since billed, your Chamber along with Mesa County and several businesses filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit against the GVDD is to seek an injunction to prevent them from unilaterally collecting the new drainage fee. Although this litigation will carry on into next year, we continue to hear from both Chamber-members and non-members their appreciation for our efforts in standing up for business.
The successful continuation of Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) – This was one of my favorite programs to be involved with over the past year. Terri Smatla (Workforce Development Coordinator) did a tremendous job engaging and working with 15 young adults to help them complete the program. This is a program that has a lasting impact on these boys and girls and helps set them up for long-term future success. I would be remiss if I did not mention the success Brayden Kelly had with his Practical Tackle at the semifinal competition in NY.
Business Network and Special events continues to be our most popular Chamber benefit – Candace Carnahan (Events & Program Manager) puts together great events that our members always enjoy. The Star Wars banquet last year was one of our best-attended banquets ever and somehow she continues to get the weather to (mostly) cooperate for the golf tournaments. The Business After Hours and Business Showcase remain an extremely popular way for members to network.
Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding – Based on the recommendations of the North Star Study, the Chamber along with The Business Incubator and Grand Junction Economic Partnership have grown more coordinated and stronger in addressing the needs and opportunities of growing our economy. A great example of this coordination is the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the three organizations.
Leveraging technology in the Chamber – Shari Brokenicky (Information & Technology Manager) this past year has taken on the challenge of doing major IT infrastructure updates within the Chamber. Besides the normal everyday struggle of keeping everyone up and running, she was able to move the Chamber to gigabit Internet and backbone and now make us ready for not only the Chamber legislative video conferencing but make video conferencing, available for our members.
I have greatly enjoyed working with this board and I am very proud of the diversity of opinions that are regularly voiced at our meetings. We do not always agree on how to tackle an issue but by working together and asking ourselves what is best for our members, we have been able to accomplish quite a bit.
In my first Chairman’s column I wrote the following:
The Chamber is more than just a building and it is much more than the staff and Board. Our Chamber is YOU, a medley of individuals and businesses that have a common goal of making Grand Junction a better and more prosperous place to work, live, and raise a family. It is only through YOU and the FORCE you bring to the Chamber that we are able to accomplish these goals. I urge you to get involved, partake in the many benefits and opportunities your Chamber provides.
Now that my time as Chairman is coming to a close, I can tell you that I feel these words are more true than when I started. It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve you and I thank you for the opportunity. I am excited to hand over the helm to your 2017 Chairman Jeffrey Hurd as I know he will be a great Chairman. I look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s banquet.
Matthew Breman, Chairman
Click here to download full version of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce December 2016 Newsletter.