It has been almost a month since I’ve joined the Brawley Chamber of Commerce and it already feels like home. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent more time here than at home lately, but mostly it is because of the wonderful welcome I’ve received from the business community.
The relationship between the Chamber and its members truly needs to be a partnership. When I first opened my business many years ago, I promptly joined the Chamber of Commerce because it seemed the thing to do. I put the plaque on the wall, we had a ribbon cutting and I attended a mixer or two. And then nothing. For several years that plaque hung on the wall and I paid my dues, but I wasn’t really an active Chamber member.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why I never really took advantage of my Chamber membership. When you run a small business there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and something has to give. But after I closed the shop I found myself working with the Chamber more in my new positions and came to really appreciate all of the benefits that came with membership. I started taking advantage of some of the services, and paying more attention to what was going on behind the scenes.
And now I’m here at the Chamber in Brawley, and I get to experience the same relationships from the other side of the desk. I look at some of the services available – eblasts, online events listings, the newsletter and more – and wish I had known to take advantage of them back in the day. Now I wish every one of our members knew to take advantage of them.
When a business owner considers membership in the Chamber, they want to know “what’s in it for me?” What I’ve learned in my first few weeks here is that the answer is different for everybody. Some businesses benefit from the mixers and newsletters. Others gain more from the governmental affairs committee. Some are looking for every benefit possible, while others just want to show their support for the community.
I’m working on expanding the answer to “what’s in it for me?” In the coming months the Chamber will be hosting many events, making trainings available, providing updated information that the business community needs, and much more. Ultimately, what we provide is up to our members. I’m sorry to say I don’t have the time to come clean your restrooms or trim your trees – though I’d be happy to refer you to a member who will do a great job. But I do have time to listen, and if there is something more we can be doing at the Chamber to improve the business community, and to provide more value for your membership dollars, please let me know.
We’re partners in this. It’s not enough to just hang the plaque on the wall. But when we work together, we can make Brawley and the whole Imperial Valley a better place.
Executive Director, Brawley Chamber of Commerce