If your area has a small business community, chances are it also has a Chamber of Commerce. You might recognize the name, but don’t know much more than that. An organization that has been around for over 100 years can seem out of date, and irrelevant to how business is done today. Well, we are here to share how local businesses as well as local communities can benefit from a local Chamber.
Every Chamber of Commerce is different, but they are all essentially a network of local businesses. The Chamber itself works to fulfill the needs of its local business community through advocacy, networking opportunities, education and exclusive member benefits. Chambers range in size, from National (Canadian Chamber of Commerce), Provincial (Ontario Chamber of Commerce), to local Chambers (like ours!). Here are a few of the larger things a Chamber does for its community.
The word ‘advocacy’ is often misunderstood. Essentially, the Chamber voices the opinions of its local community to all levels of government, and works to ensure the needs of our community are being heard and accommodated. For example, there are currently not enough Go-Trains running from KW to Toronto, so our Chamber has been advocating for all-way two-way go. Some communities also have a shortage of family physicians, so local Chambers work to recruit Doctors to their area. This is something that we do right here in KW. To date, we have recruited over 200 family physicians, shrinking the shortage in half! To stay up-to-date on our Advocacy, check out our media page.
Chambers work to connect their local business communities because they understand the value of making new connections, and events are a great way to do just that. Depending on the size of the Chamber, they host anywhere between 20 – 100+ events annually! That gives plenty of opportunities to network and make lasting connections in your local community. Not all events are solely for networking – there are educational events, as well as luncheons. Our Chamber hosts Manulife Chamber Academy Series to provide cost-effective education opportunities, as well as Point Of View Luncheons to educate our members on a variety of topics. This past year alone we hosted several Ministers, and discussed topics ranging from Immigration to Cyber Security. Check out the events our Chamber has coming up on our events calendar.
Every Chamber offers a unique set of benefits to help their members reduce their bottom line. These benefits vary from Chamber to Chamber, but can range from exclusive Insurance pricing to saving big on office supplies! At our Chamber, our members with less than 10 employees save roughly $2,600 per year (on average)! Something to keep in mind as well is that all employees of member businesses can benefit from member rewards. Check out our full list of member rewards to see how you can save.
Educating yourself and your staff can be expensive, but Chambers typically offer some sort of cost-effective educational series or events. At our Chamber, we host the Chamber Academy Series to educate your staff on topics that range from Building a Team of Leaders, Spend Less Save More, to Reaching Your Target Audience with Digital Marketing. Chambers typically have some sort of group learning opportunity as well. At our Chamber, we host Peer2Peer sessions. These sessions are free for members, meet on a monthly basis, and have a different focus in each group. For example, we have a Not For Profit group, Marketing or Operations Group. Check out your local Chambers website to see how they help educate their members!
The key takeaway here is that a Chamber of Commerce is here to help – whether you are a small business owner or a young professional looking to make some new connections. Serving their local community is what comes first, so if you have an issue, reach out – you never know how they might be able to help.
This blog was written by Natalie Hemmerich, Marketing & Communications Manager.