Chamber of Commerce lays out road map for future at board retreat

Published 4:28 pm Friday, December 13, 2019

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The Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce hosted their board retreat last week at Pecan Ridge, where they identified ways to further benefit their members and reviewed goals for the upcoming 2020 year.

The Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization that is funded solely by membership dues. While they work closely with the City, County, DDA and IDA to better inform members of current happenings and update them on opportunities, the Chamber is a separate entity.

To help ensure all ideas were heard and that the meeting moved seamlessly, Chamber President Lauren Minor asked the Georgia Chamber to facilitate it. They sent two facilitators, Morgan Law and Molly Giddens.

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Law and Giddens first got to know the Board of Directors, Stacey Cunningham, Brad Barber, Jennifer Cannon, Hugh Dollar, Carla Chastain, Leslie Bernier, Clint Beckham, Matt Palmer and Marvalynn Carroll. They then met the members in line to be the chairman- 2020 chairman-Dana Bryant, chairman elect- Doug Young, first vice chairman- Daryl Cox, second vice chairman- Randee Eubanks and past chairman- Randy Logue.

Following the introductions, the Chamber discussed what their goal and mission is. Minor said at the core, they are businesses helping businesses, but strive to better the entire business climate of Bainbridge and Decatur County.

In order to better the businesses of Bainbridge and Decatur County, the Chamber has to predict what is to come and take a look at the economy and where it’s headed. The Georgia Chamber provided a “futurecast” that showed trends in the economy for the next 20 years or more. For example, they introduced a new business model called the “gig economy” they have seen trending; it’s when anyone with a skill markets themselves for a small time and has many different business opportunities instead of just one job.

During the retreat and reviewing goals, they also viewed the data from the survey members took earlier in November.

One of the things they noticed is that members would like for the Chamber to be more involved in advocacy and legislation, which Minor said goes back to the roots of why Chambers of Commerce were originally formed.

“Chambers began as institutions that advocated on behalf of businesses to the government,” Minor said. “And, that’s something we can do on the local and state level.”

Minor said the members did specify they want the advocacy and legislation as more informational and educational, but are not interested in a tactical approach, such as elected official training.

“Hopefully in 2020, members can see us making that change,” Minor said.

Minor also said the survey showed that members were satisfied with the cost of membership and felt like it was just right. When compared with surrounding counties, the Bainbridge- Decatur County Chamber is not on the high end or low end of the scale.

Upon reviewing the data, Minor said going into 2020 they really want to focus on workforce development and how to provide value and engage members.

“The only way we will continue to have member support is if we provide value and that’s what we want to continue to do,” she said.

To help with workforce and leadership development, they will begin their adult leadership classes in 2020 and bring the UGA Fanning Institute, who will host five leadership courses.

They have also looked at how to create a pipeline for the businesses and industries here that will provide them with a talented and skilled workforce that they need and will help them remain successful here.

Minor finished with saying their final discussion was on events, which is a huge business opportunity for many. Their next big event will be RiverTown Days, which is being completely revamped and celebrate its 17th year.

“We plan to use this event to market our community, our culture and our way of life here,” she said.

Minor is excited to see the event takeoff in the near future and continue to improve the Chamber’s value for everyone through events and regularly held meetings.