Evaluating, planning, setting goals. These words usually make people go into cold sweats. Not so with the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Each year these eleven business owners, elected by the Membership of the Chamber, gather together to go over where the Chamber has been, where they want it to go and how they are going to get there. This can be a lengthy process. This year’s Board Planning Meeting was last week, and was hosted by Secrets on Main. The day began with a short regular board meeting to wrap up any remaining business from 2017, before delving into the planning process for 2018.
2017 was a strong and healthy year for the Chamber, organizationally speaking. Over 60 new Members joined the Chamber during the year and over 90% of previously registered Members renewed their membership. Chambers of Commerce do not usually have that many members join in a single year and a 90% retention rate is a full three percentage points better than the 87% that is a bench mark by the Michigan Chamber, for Chambers the size of Cheboygan. Financially, the year was a success as well. The 2017 fiscal year ended with one of the healthiest financial reports that the Board has experienced in several years. This financial health also led the Board to begin to set up an operational reserve, in preparation for any unexpected financial challenges that the future might bring.
It is important and many times very interesting to look back, but the Board of Directors is most interested in looking forward and setting goals and programing that will drive this Chamber forward and help lead this community to new successes and prosperity. In 2017 the Chamber Board developed the new mission of “Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, LEADS Cheboygan.” For 2018 they used each of the letters in the acronym LEADS; Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, Development and Support to guide their goal setting process. With LEADS as the main focus, the Board also used the guidelines of the “5 M’s of Association Management”; Mission, Membership, Manpower, Marketing and Money as a guide to balance in planning. What resulted is a commitment to the Members of the Chamber, and the region as a whole, that has the potential to be a difference maker for years to come.
2018 will see a first ever “Cheboygan State of the Community” event that will take place this fall and will hopefully serve as a unifying opportunity for all the entities that are working so hard for the economic future of Cheboygan. The Chamber Board has also pledged to begin to form two community leadership programs designed to help engage the next generation of leadership in the community while drawing on the experience and mentoring opportunities of our current and past leadership. Recognizing that the Cheboygan area is quickly becoming the new Entrepreneurial Capital of Northern Michigan the Chamber will continue to support entrepreneurial programs such as “Invest Cheboygan” and community development programs such as the Michigan Main Street Program. Additionally, the Chamber will seek to embrace entrepreneurs with a special classification of membership designed to help them join the Chamber of Commerce and get connected to the business community quicker.
We also want to make sure that we are doing everything to help develop our current businesses and Members. The Business Development and Education series is being planned now to help provide a little extra knowledge to help those in attendance gain a competitive advantage. The Chamber is also looking internally to strengthen relationships with our existing members and making sure that every business or organization that is involved in the Cheboygan economy has an opportunity to join the Chamber of Commerce and help be advocates for our region. One of the ways that we are looking to do this is by bolstering the efforts of our Ambassadors Team. This is the volunteer group that performs all the ribbon cuttings for new members, helps produce all of our events and helps support our membership through serving as an advocacy conduit and communication liaison. The Board and Staff want to make sure that we are doing everything that is necessary to assist those volunteers in their crucial mission for the Chamber.
There is an old adage in the Chamber world that says, “If you have seen one Chamber of Commerce you have seen one Chamber of Commerce.” The meaning behind that is that all Chambers are different in how they serve their Members and their communities. The board of Directors of the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce by setting these goals and providing these programing opportunities want to have people say when they look at our Chamber and our community, “wow, that’s Cheboygan!"