Chamber Strategic Plan

2016 Strategic Plan for The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1971 through the merger of the Barre Chamber of Commerce and the Montpelier Chamber of Commerce. Through the years, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has represented the business community with distinction, becoming the most widely-respected business organization in Washington County.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce became deeply engaged in economic development almost immediately. That involvement included encouraging entrepreneurship, engaging in direct involvement in business relocation services, promoting the region’s tourism economy, and becoming very involved in advocacy for business owners at the local, state and federal levels. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce promoted business networking events, provided affinity services for its membership, and grew the membership to more than 500 in the early 2000s.

As with many organizations, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce saw its membership drop off during the recession of 2008–2009. Membership took another hit when those who had belonged to The Chamber only in order to obtain affordable health insurance also stopped renewing their memberships when the Affordable Care Act prohibited organizations from offering such programs. As a result, the membership dipped to its present level of 305 members.

In 2015, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce began a period of transition with the announcement of the retirement of its President of 37 years, George Malek. William Moore succeeded Mr. Malek in early January 2016. In May of 2016, The Board of Directors of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce undertook the development of a 3-year Strategic Plan. The Board conducted four formal sessions and adopted the Strategic Plan at its October 21, 2016 meeting.

The following pages contain The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce Strategic Plan, the result of serious consideration given to all aspects of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce operation. It consists of four essential Initiatives. The first is to Advocate for Business through various critical areas. The second is to ensure the Fiscal Integrity of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The third Initiative is to advance Technology and Communications for The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The fourth Initiative is to provide proper Stewardship of Beaulieu Place, the home of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The key to understanding the Plan’s goals and objectives is to understand the Mission and Vision of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The Mission of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is to guide, inspire and promote the best interests of the businesses and professionals of the area, and to enhance the economic, cultural, educational and recreational opportunities of its citizens and visitors.

Our Vision Statement:
The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is the premier business organization in Central Vermont, providing essential and meaningful services to its members. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is recognized and respected as the “Go to” organization by the business community, government and other Chambers. Our community and its citizens thrive because of the efforts of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The Goals of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce are to:
• Promote continued economic growth, job creation and infrastructure improvements
• Enhance and promote the historical, cultural, natural and recreational assets of Central Vermont to residents and visitors
• Provide a strong voice for business in local and regional planning
• Encourage local business networking through a variety of membership functions
• Recognize and promote awareness of those investing in local business ventures
• Assist business by offering consulting teams of experienced professionals
• Support a broad range of cultural events and performances
• Increase communication between business leaders and legislators
• Forge new bonds of cooperation between area businesses and local schools
• Encourage residents and businesses to shop locally – especially with members
• Produce attractive, accurate maps of city streets, including recent name changes
• Aid decision makers and others with current statistical and economic data
• Amend Act 250 to ensure timely reviews that respect local and district decisions
• Respond to those seeking information with attractive materials and quality data
• Provide professional growth opportunities for members and their staff
• Increase membership so as to provide a strong, broad base of financial support for program activity and committee volunteer work.

What follows is the detail of The Central Vermont Strategic Plan.

INITIATIVE: BUSINESS VITALITY
Under the direction of the Board of Directors and the Public Policy Committee, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will work to:

• Establish closer relationships with existing area organizations
• Be proactive to stay abreast of relevant legislative initiatives
• Enhance communications among members, the public, lawmakers
• Emphasize tourism marketing
• Better organize and operate all events.

One of the most important obligations of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is to be an advocate for its members and the business community in general. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will strengthen its already well-recognized governmental relations efforts by identifying key issues that affect the business community. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will lobby those issues on the local, state and federal levels, utilizing the inherent strengths found in the membership. Under the direction of the Board of Directors, the Public Policy Committee, working with the President, will represent The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce at appropriate legislative and regulatory forums to ensure that the voice of the business community is heard. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will look for opportunities for direct member involvement in the public policy arena and will encourage member participation in its efforts.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will create and appoint an Events Committee and a Tourism Committee that will be chaired by a newly created position of Vice Chair for Events and Vice Chair for Tourism.

Providing for enhanced educational and networking opportunities for our members is a critical component of the Strategic Plan. The Events Committee will identify and present educational programs for the membership. Recognizing the need for a strong workforce, the Committee will present cutting-edge programming for our members to help to ensure that they are aware of the latest developments in a variety of fields including, but not limited to, Human Resources, Technology, Labor Law, Tax Law, Leadership Training and other areas that affect business’ bottom line. Networking at these types of events and at after-business-hours mixers will help to strengthen our local businesses.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce recognizes that tourism is a major industry not only for the state, but particularly for our Central Vermont region. Tourism is a thread that runs through virtually everything that The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce does. Tourism is a key element of our economic profile, providing thousands of jobs year-round. A strong Tourism Committee will enable The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce to promote Central Vermont as a destination. The Tourism Committee will identify areas in which The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce can leverage existing promotional opportunities into enhanced visitation to Central Vermont.

Using enhanced communication and outreach methods, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will work to strengthen the Central Vermont economy. Our mantra in this regard is, “The Members of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce are Ready and Open for Business!”

INITIATIVE: ENSURE FISCAL INTEGRITY

As a result of regular oversight by an active Board of Directors, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has earned the reputation of being a well-managed, financially sound and responsible organization. That direct involvement by the Board has provided a strong organization with a solid footing from which to grow The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce as we near the year 2020. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will build upon that base to ensure long-term viability for the organization.

That long-term viability will be accomplished through the continued direct involvement of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s leadership. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce Treasurer will lead a new Finance Committee which will recommend realistic, attainable budgets to the Board of Directors. Once adopted by the Board, the Finance Committee will monitor the budget. Changes to the budget will be the result of the recommendations of the Finance Committee and will reflect a dynamic organization. The Finance Committee will also oversee the various investments that The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce owns.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has a solid membership base that expects a strong return on investment annually. This is in the forefront of all of our activities. The opportunities for membership growth are here. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will seize upon those opportunities, while recognizing that a key to growth is retention. The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce will seek to achieve a retention rate of 93% each year, and to grow its total membership at a rate of at least 10% annually.

A vigorous Marketing Plan will enable us to reach these goals. Included in that Marketing Plan will be a re-branding of The Chamber: the logo; collateral materials; website; and such other items that are necessary to project the robust reputation that The Chamber has earned.

The strong ROI to our members will be represented in a variety of ways. Chief among those ways is ensuring successful membership meetings and events. Ensuring that our publications are up-to-date and accurate is another measurement. Utilization of all media platforms will be critical to our success. Attracting the next generation of business leaders to participate in The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is vital. Being responsive to our members and to our members’ needs will result in solid growth for the future.

INITIATIVE: VIBRANT TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

A new Technology Task Force, responsible to the Board of Directors has been created to ensure that The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of our rapidly changing world. Having the appropriate tools will enable us to be most responsive to the demands of our robust membership.

The Technology Task Force will monitor the needs of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce and assess the viability of our communication platforms. State-of-the-art technology will enable the staff to work more efficiently and thus be more responsive to our members’ needs. The Technology Task Force will oversee the launch of The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s newly revitalized website, and make appropriate recommendations to ensure that necessary enhancements are optimized.

Technology will play an important role in supporting the Public Policy, Tourism, Events and Educational opportunities that are before us.

INITIATIVE: SOUND FACILITIES MANAGEMENT

Through prudent planning and sound financial investments, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce acquired and expanded Beaulieu Place, The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce headquarter building. Careful management of this vital asset is important so that this long-term investment will continue to serve as a central location for businesses to meet.

Beaulieu Place is not only home to The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce and hosts offices for several small businesses, our Conference Room facilities are available for rental.

The Facilities Task Force has been charged with monitoring and maintaining modern office space and accoutrements. The Facilities Task Force will make recommendations for enhancements and upgrades that ensure the attractive nature of Beaulieu Place.

Taken together, these four Initiatives comprise The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce Strategic Plan. Implementation will require utilizing the strength of our membership, the oversight by our Board of Directors and the dedication of our professional staff, and will require this triad to work in unison. In so doing, we will be sure that we are accomplishing our objective, the essential point of which is to strengthen our economy, improve the quality of life for those who live here and to create new jobs for the future.

KEY INITIAVES AND OBJECTIVES OF THE
CENTRAL VERMONT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE STRATEGIC PLAN

BUSINESS VITALITY

• Establish closer relationships with existing area organizations
• Be Proactive on relevant legislative initiatives
• Enhance communications with members, the public, lawmakers
• Emphasize Tourism marketing
• Better organize and operate all events

ENSURE FISCAL INTEGRITY/REVENUE GENERATION

• Appoint Finance Committee
• Generate Budgets for 2017, 2018, 2019
• Develop Marketing Plan
• Create Events Committee
• Evaluate and Update Publications
• Membership increase of 10% per year
• Retention of 93% per year
•Successful Annual Meetings
• Successful Annual Raffles
• Successful Annual Golf Outings

TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS

• Appoint Technology Task Force
• Launch New Website
• Create web marketing opportunities for members
•Monitor and suggest changes to website
• Monitor and make recommendations regarding software needs
•Initiate Video and Audio Streaming
•Ensure
• Optimum usage of all media platforms

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
• Create Building Task Force
• Lease Available Space is a Priority
• Review Maintenance Priorities
• Complete Required Maintenance
• Manage Annual Raffle

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