Forced to be creative in the short term to assist its members during the seven-month closure of Bell Road, the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce learned more about its long-term direction.
As a result 2017 should be a bit of a sea change. The chamber is a bit less about mixers and new members and more focused on its mission.
“At one time the paradigm was all about members and only members. The watershed event we had was the Shop Bell/Grand. I think that was a paradigm shift for us, in the sense that the chamber working with the city and local businesses partnered on something bigger that was more than just chamber members,” Mr. Sada said.
During the Jan. 17 Surprise City Council work session, Mr. Sada said the chamber’s three pillars form the acronym MVP.
They are membership service and benefits, voice of the business community in advocacy and legislation and public education and outreach.
“The MVP model also acknowledges the growing awareness of the different motivations for chamber membership. The MVP description of the chamber’s core impact areas, attempts to articulate membership value, that more accurately addresses the diverse reasons for belonging. Research shows that companies join chambers for a variety of reasons, that go far beyond events or mixers,” Mr Sada stated in a press release.
As a sign of the Surprise Regional Chamber growing more diverse and more healthy, corporate income and contributions, advertising and fees for service now rivals membership income as the chamber’s source of revenue, Mr. Sada said.
2016 saw the chamber welcome 75 new members. This list included 17 companies in the Chairman’s Circle, which requires a minimum $5,000 contribution.
“This is the second year in a row where the chamber has operated in the black,” Mr. Sada said.
Surprise Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic said the city and chamber tweaked their working agreement a year ago and have a healthy partnership.
The detours on Bell Road strengthened the collaboration. Their Bridge to Business campaign earned a Golden Prospector Award for Best Multimedia Promotion at the Arizona Association for Economic Development Conference.
“Through that partnership, I think you’re absolutely right. We’ve actually begun to see the growth of a new chamber model that can serve the city. We all agree that it is going to be a completely different city than it was 10 years ago,” Mayor Wolcott said.
Now, Mr. Sada said, the chamber plans to infuse what it learned into its programs for promoting businesses. The digital text marketing opt in for residents can grow.
And he said the opportunities for businesses city wide to connect with residents and make the public aware of deals should grow.
“The shop Bell Road was a demonstration project that I think really showed how the city, chamber and local businesses could partner together. We’ve achieved an innovation award,” Mr. Sada said. “I would like to propose that at some point we talk about how we take that Shop Bell/Grand and turn that into a Shop Surprise program. My vision is really simple. Any Surprise resident looking for a plumber or yard services they can go to a single source and find out about local businesses in our community.”
The Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce serves El Mirage, Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise and Youngtown. The chamber’s video can be seen at https://youtu.be/RNr-KsYv2lE.