Chamber's Annual Report

From the Board of Directors - Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce
April 19, 2010

The Chamber’s business IS business – We promote the growth of the Pekin area through the collective efforts of our members.

Below are the four goals of our strategic plan. During the past year, the Chamber’s Board of Directors, committees, volunteers and staff have contributed the following efforts:

Goal 1: Create a vibrant business environment in the Pekin

Vision: Creating a vibrant business environment requires our participation in the legislative process - advocating those issues that will benefit our membership and keeping our membership informed of legislation that will impact their business interests. Creating a vibrant business environment also requires that we seek out organizations that share our goals and collaborate with them, actively pursuing our common goals.

Advocacy: The chamber staff and members of the Business Advocacy Committee promoted issues that will create a vibrant business environment. We partnered with area chambers to form CIRCLE, the Central Illinois Regional Chamber Legislative Effort, which took 50 business leaders and five key issues to the state capitol. The Transportation Committee continued to be a leading advocate for improvements to the local infrastructure, most notably Veterans Drive. As a result of our leadership and lobbying efforts this year’s state capital budget includes funding for the southern section of Veterans Drive.

Collaboration: The chamber staff collaborated with the City of Pekin on economic development tasks: We assisted with business retention visits; participated on Economic Development Advisory Committee, and provided funding for an enhanced residential relocation website. We continued to work with local and regional organizations on shared projects, including the LAUNCH Business Plan competition, the Heart of Illinois Legislative Reception and the Regional Roads Priority List.

Information Sharing: Using a variety of media, we kept our members informed of issues that could affect the business environment. We also published a candidate questionnaire for the local elections.

Goal 2: Stimulate community growth

Vision: Our members and the community expect us to be the information source for potential visitors, new residents, and new businesses. We accept that role and produce high-quality promotional materials for the requests we receive from outside of the area. We also proactively market the Pekin area to the region. The Pekin area has a number of assets that contribute to community growth. "Quality of Life" events are among those assets, and we assume a leadership role, collaborating with others to maintain, improve and expand the events.

Marketing: Our Marketing Committee continued to promote our community with the “Pekin, What a Pleasant Surprise” campaign. The committee monitored and tried to influence the traffic sent to our websites from search engines. We continued to use maps, magazines and street banners as marketing tools and funding sources, and we began planning for a new marketing theme.

Quality of Life: As a result of great weather, great sponsors, and the efforts of our staff and volunteers, the Marigold Festival, the July 4th Honor America Celebration, and the Women’s Marigold Golf Outing all provided outstanding quality of life opportunities for our community..

Goal 3: Ensure the Chamber is a strong, stable organization

Vision: The Chamber, like any organization, must raise and efficiently use resources. We follow sound fiscal and accounting practices to ensure the financial health of the organization. We need a pool of leaders and volunteers to keep our committees and events active and growing. Therefore, we actively recruit potential leaders and volunteers, developing their skills and commitment. Our members need to know what is happening with the Chamber and feel like they are a part of the organization, so we employ a variety of tools and media to communicate with our members. Finally, the Chamber acknowledges the need for continued organizational improvement, and the need to keep our plan a living, breathing document.

Fiscal Responsibility: We were good stewards of our members’ investments in our organization. As a result of an extremely challenging economy, total revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 fell about 10% short of our budget. In particular, our dues revenue felt the impact of the economy, as we lost 3 of our 10 largest dues paying members. This forced us to aggressively reduce or eliminate several planned expenditures, which resulted in a positive cash flow greater than originally budgeted. Despite the poor economy, we added 44 new members, our best effort in at least 10 years. Unfortunately, we lost 49 members during the same 12 months. We ended the year with 388 members. The board has approved a balanced budget for the coming year, with revenues equaling expenses. The balanced budget is based on an aggressive membership growth projection.

Leadership Development: During the past year our board and 12 committees included nearly 200 volunteers. We held the 12th R. David Tebben Community Leadership Academy, graduating 21 enthusiastic participants.

Communication: We continued to use several different tools to communicate with our members and the public. In addition to our website, monthly newsletter, and emails, we use several online blogs and a social networking service to post up-to-the-minute chamber news and pictures. We also collaborated with the Pekin Public Library to podcast some of our events.

Organizational Improvements: We formally evaluated the activities of our strategic plan and made adjustments to our activities. Some of these adjustments were the result of the challenges presented by the economic downturn.

Goal 4: Create promotional opportunities for our members

Vision: One of the primary benefits of chamber membership is networking - the opportunity to meet, socialize, interact, and do business with other business people. We coordinate events that provide those networking opportunities. Also, there's strength in numbers, and Chamber members can take advantage of those economies of scale when we offer our membership high-impact promotional opportunities at a price that is more economical than they could arrange on their own. It's important for new members to see an immediate return on their dues investment, and so we offer numerous promotional opportunities to them.

Networking Events: Our committees coordinated a number of successful networking events, including Puttin’ On Pekin breakfasts, monthly Business After Hours, and the Chamber Challenge Trivia Nite. These events provided attendees over 1,200 networking opportunities.

New Member Promotions: Each new member was assigned to a Chamber Ambassador, who served as their mentor. The Ambassadors encouraged the new members to take advantage of the first-year promotional benefits, valued at over $1,000.

Shared Promotions: Our committees offered numerous shared promotional opportunities to our members, including an electricity purchasing coop, the Pekin Area Business EXPO, shared advertising opportunities in the local media, a community resource book, a community map, the monthly Super Saver Chamber Coupons, and a successful Business and Community Recognition Luncheon.

We enjoyed a number of successes over the past year. These were the result of careful planning, a hard working staff, and an enthusiastic and dedicated group of volunteers. Our success would not be possible without the collective efforts of our members – not only their financial investments but also their willingness to get involved and encourage their employees to do the same.

As we look ahead to the next year we are cautiously optimistic. The economic downturn continues to affect all of us, some to a much greater degree than others. We are confident the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce has the resources in place to meet the challenges of the coming year, and to continue to promote the growth of the Pekin area through the collective efforts of our members.


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