Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chamber Implements New Strategic Plan

After nearly a year of surveys, research and discussions, the Board of Directors approved a new strategic plan for the organization.  The board and executive committee first considered the following information: 

Environmental Scan – We’re Not Your Father’s Chamber
In a few areas our chamber still operates like it is 1971. But the world, our community, and the economy have changed drastically in the past 40 years. In fact, they’ve changed drastically in the last 10 years. Here are six areas where the change has been significant and why we can’t be your father’s chamber anymore.  
  1. Time
    1. For a variety of reasons, people have less time to serve on boards or committees, or to attend events
  2. Value expectations
    1. Few businesses join the chamber because “it’s the right thing to do”
  3. Marketplace structure
    1. Our economy is significantly different 
    2. There are fewer businesses located in Pekin 
    3. Businesses have fewer resources available to support chamber events, programs and efforts.  
    4. Businesses have fewer employees to serve on committees and boards, or attend Chamber events. 
  4. Demographics
    1. There are less locally owned businesses in Pekin 
    2. National brands have fewer management level personnel available for chamber involvement (if it’s even a priority) 
    3. In 1971 our board was predominantly male, older, Pekin residents, and CEOs, business owners and general managers – the decision makers.  
    4. The 2011 chamber board is male and female, younger, central Illinois residents, and less than half of them would be considered the decision maker at their place of employment. 
  5. Competition
    1. The chamber is no longer the leading economic development organization 
    2. The chamber is no longer the visitor’s bureau 
    3. People seeking/providing information don’t need the chamber – they Google it 
    4. There are many other organizations (local and regional) we compete with for dues and sponsorships 
  6. Technology
    1. Hardware, software, social media, mobile devices, etc. have changed how the chamber communicates with members and the public
SWOT Analysis
  1. Strengths
    1. Financial position (lack of debt; sufficient reserves) 
    2. Staff is knowledgeable, passionate about our purpose 
    3. Current programming meets current objectives 
    4. Marigold Festival/July 4th add to Pekin’s quality of life 
    5. Mission is broad enough to allow flexibility in programming
  2. Weaknesses
    1. Lack the capacity to be all things to all people 
    2. Inconsistent dues/sponsorship revenues 
    3. Underpriced dues structure 
    4. Lack of member participation / member apathy 
    5. Communications vehicles haven’t kept pace with technology 
    6. Don’t market ourselves well 
    7. Mission is so broad it makes it difficult to focus
  3. Opportunities 
    1. Have the potential to be THE leader in Pekin 
    2. Members want us to do more 
    3. Partnership opportunities exist in Pekin and the region 
  4. Threats 
    1. Competitors (other local chambers, associations, networks, etc.) 
    2. Internet/technology could make us irrelevant
What Members Want
  1. Information– besides the information we currently provide our members also want more information about:
    1. community events 
    2. economic indicators and business news 
    3. business advocacy issues 
  2. Communications Tools – usage of smart phone apps and texting is on the rise and a small segment of our membership would welcome our use of those tools 
  3. Priorities – in addition to what we already do, members would like to see the chamber do more in these areas:
    1. Economic Development - take a leadership role in economic development, recruiting new businesses and retaining existing businesses 
    2. Networking - provide networking opportunities for members 
    3. Quality of Life - assume a leadership role in events that add to the quality of life for area residents, i.e., Marigold Festival, July 4th Fireworks, etc. 
    4. Marketing – market the Pekin area as a great place to live 
    5. Business Advocacy - proactively participate in the legislative process by promoting a pro-business agenda, representing the interests of our members
  4. Chamber members can be generally divided into two camps 
    1. Those who want the chamber to provide member-specific benefits that provide a return on their dues investment.  
    2. Those who want the chamber to provide community benefits, i.e., economic development, marketing, businesses advocacy, etc.
Based on the research and discussions, the Board of Directors approved the following plan at their May 9, 2012 meeting:
 
Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors
Strategic Plan
Adopted May 9, 2012
 
Vision: The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce will lead the effort to create a vibrant business environment in the Pekin area
 
Mission: Provide opportunities for Pekin area businesses to succeed
Objectives / Strategies:
 
  1. Promote a pro-business agenda
    1. Advocacy
      1. Develop a stronger, proactive government affairs program
    2. Collaboration
      1. Continue our leadership in CIRCLE
      2. Continue our advocacy collaboration with the Illinois Chamber
      3. Continue our collaboration with Tri-County Chambers’ Regional Road Project Priorities
    3. Information Sharing
      1. Develop new government affairs communication vehicle that regularly updates our members on city, county and state legislation, business news and issues
    4. 2012 Priorities
      1. Redesign our government affairs program with a re-energized committee
      2. Launch new government affairs communications vehicle
  2. Promote economic development in Pekin and the region
    1. Mentoring
      1. Develop a mentoring program for new businesses that involves existing members in mentoring roles
      2. Analyze the viability of a small business incubator for Pekin
    2. Collaboration
      1. Collaborate with the City of Pekin on a retention visit plan
      2. Continue to be the leading advocate for Veterans Drive
      3. Take a leadership role in the development of a comprehensive economic development plan for Pekin
    3. Quality of Life
      1. Continue to manage a successful Marigold Festival
      2. Continue to manage the July 4th Honor America Fireworks Celebration
    4. Marketing
      1. Redesign the chamber’s websites
      2. Develop a plan to market our community assets, especially PCHS’ strengths
    5. 2012 Priorities
      1. Collaborate with the City of Pekin on a retention visit schedule
      2. Redesign the Chambers’ websites
  3. Provide members with benefits and services that meet their needs
    1. Restructure Membership Dues
      1. Develop new dues structure that enhances member value and optimizes revenues
    2. Networking Events
      1. Develop plans to increase networking opportunities and attendance
      2. Identify ways to get national brands more involved in chamber activities and programs
    3. Training / Education
      1. Develop partnerships with EA/AAIM, Bradley, ICC, other chambers, and members to co-sponsor trainings and educational programs
    4. Leadership Development
      1. Manage the annual R. David Tebben Community Leadership Academy
    5. Restructure Committees
      1. Restructure the committees to align with new strategic plan
    6. Shared Promotions
      1. Manage an annual Business Expo
      2. Develop website promotional opportunities for members
    7. Market Benefits of Membership 
      1. Redesign the chamber website
      2. Redesign promotional materials
    8. 2012 Priorities
      1. Implement new dues structure and plan to optimize revenues
      2. Develop training partnerships
      3. Restructure committees to align with new strategic plan
      4. Redesign the chambers’ websites
      5. Solicit membership/support from large area employers