By Vicki Hawsey Karolewics, Ed.D
The Cullman Times
The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce has kicked off its first Total Resource Campaign. It is my pleasure to serve as this year’s chair of that campaign.
As a former Chamber president, I believe in the work of the Chamber, its benefits to businesses in our community, many of which are small businesses, and the opportunities we have of working together to contribute to a stronger Cullman. Under the leadership of Leah Bolin and her close relationship with the Cullman Economic Development agencies, the Chamber is having a tremendously positive impact on our community.
Governor Robert Bentley has called small businesses “the backbone of the Alabama economy.” This year, he declared the week of June 17 as Small Business Week in Alabama, recognizing the contributions of small business owners and workers “to our state's prosperity and for reflecting the true entrepreneurial spirit of Alabama.” More than 700,000 employees in Alabama are employed by small businesses, and many of the services of our Chamber recognize the importance of small businesses to our local economy.
Members receive opportunities for additional business as a result of Chamber referrals as well as by networking during participation in one of the Chamber’s many successful events — luncheons, industry tours, business improvement workshops and after hours activities, just to name a few. Chamber members also receive publicity for their events in the Chamber newsletter and in the wider media through open houses, ribbon cuttings, and by hosting or participating in Chamber activities. The Chamber exists to promote its members.
According to a survey by Market Street Consulting, when customers know that a business is a member of the local Chamber, they are 44 percent more likely to think favorably about that business, 57 percent more likely to think positively of its local reputation, and 63 percent more likely to buy goods and services in the future from that member company. The study also found that businesses who buy from other businesses are 58 percent more likely to think positively of the local reputation of a Chamber member, and 59 percent more likely to buy from a Chamber member.
Because the Chamber represents many entities, its reach is wider than that of any one individual member. Greater membership participation makes it an even stronger advocate for our community and the needs of our local businesses.
“Reelin’ in the Big One” is the theme of the Chamber’s 2013 Total Resource Campaign, which involves the work of 60 volunteers in a high-energy, high-impact seven-week drive for memberships, sponsorships, advertising, and in-kind contributions. Funds raised through memberships and sponsorships of Chamber activities will provide new and existing programs to benefit our community.
The return on investment of a Chamber membership is clear. Please join me and vice chairs Gloria Williams, Charlie Nesmith, Terri McGriff Waldrop, and Billy Coleman in supporting the Chamber this year by participating in the first Total Resource Campaign. For more information, visit cullmanchamber.org or call 256.734.0454.
* Vicki Hawsey Karolewics, Ed.D., is President of Wallace State Community College.