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2021 State of the Chamber Address

2021 State of the Chamber Address

2021 State of the Chamber Address

Before we start the State of the Chamber Address, I want to first recognize an extremely important milestone.  In today’s world, it is a very rare thing for people to commit to something for 25 years.  According to an article in the Washington Post, only about 1/3 of marriages in the United States make it to the 25-year mark.  The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average length of time an employee in our country stays at a job is 4.3 years.  Some people, however, defy those statistics.  Our very own Executive Director, Tammi Coleman, recently celebrated 25 years as our Chamber Director.  She has guided our Chamber through highs and lows.  She has led us through great times, and difficulties.  Somehow she always has a new and fresh idea.  And let's face it, we all know that while the board gets a lot of the credit, Tammi does the heavy lifting!  We would like to present Tammi with a small token of our appreciation and congratulations on this occasion.  Tammi, thank you for pouring yourself into our Chamber day in and day out.  Thank you for always going above and beyond.  Thank you for worrying too much.  Thank you for having all the answers.  Thank you for your leadership, your determination, and your great big giant beautiful heart for this community.  Come on up here, Tammi.  While we were not able to be with you on the actual anniversary day, we want you to know that we will never find sufficient gifts, words, or cards to express all that you are to our Chamber.

OK.  Now on with the boring speech!

When 2020 began, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say, we had no idea what was about to hit us.  We had no idea that we were about to face a worldwide pandemic.  We had no idea we would see community shut-downs, early business hours for the “at-risk” customer, Shortages of things we have previously taken for granted, like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and disinfecting wipes.  2020 moved us all into a world we just had no idea we were moving into.

Without a doubt, Tammi Coleman had no idea that she would help lead our Chamber through all of this.  In a year where it would have been absolutely acceptable to stand back and wait to see what happens, or throw up your hands and say we can’t accomplish anything, Tammi, and the Park Hills-Leadington Chamber of Commerce did no such thing!  In spite of all of these things, we moved forward.  Our President, Chelley Odle, continued to keep our board engaged and on track to move forward, and Tammi and Chelley worked hard to find innovative ways that the Chamber could help our investors weather these unprecedented times.
I’m delighted to report to you, our Chamber investors, that the Chamber is financially solvent.  Our income from events was reduced dramatically by COVID-19.  This could have resulted in a tremendous financial deficit for us, but with some innovation, and careful control on expenses, we were able to end the fiscal year slightly ahead of budget. 

The innovative efforts of the Chamber netted some other great numbers, as well.  In fact, let’s play a game!  It’s a multiple-choice game.  Here are the rules.

  • Keep in mind we are dealing with the year 2020
  • Remember that during a good portion of the year, businesses experienced quarantines, shut-downs, slow-downs, and unprecedented downturns.
  • I’ll give you a multiple-choice question.  I’ll read you the three choices.  Then I’ll give them to you one at a time and you raise your hand when I say the answer you think is correct.
  • Does everybody get the rules?

Question 1:  During 2020, How many businesses made the decision to become a NEW investor in the Park Hills Leadington Chamber of Commerce:

    A. 22
    B. 12
    C. 1

If you picked Answer A, you’re right!  With all the uncertainty of 2020, TWENTY-TWO business owners and managers made the decision to invest in our Chamber and in our community.  I think that is remarkable!  Don’t you?

Question 2:  During 2020, amid shutdowns, quarantines, and all that came with this crazy year, how many businesses celebrated a ribbon cutting with us?

    A. 2
    B. 4
    C. 6

The C’s have it!  SIX businesses celebrated ribbon cuttings with us and launched something new!  Amazing! 

Question 3:  During 2020, our website became a great source of information for our investors and our community.  In fact, we had a record number of pages viewed in 2020, more page views than we have had since:

    A. 2019
    B. 2012
    C. 1776

The answer is B.  With 74,158 pages viewed, we had more visitors to our website than we have had since our site launched in 2012!  Incredible!

We used more than just our website to get information out in the Covid age.  The Park Hills-Leadington Chamber also launched a YouTube channel and an Instagram account.  Social media of all kinds were implemented to help get important chamber and community information into the hands of the people who needed it.  Our website and social media were also used to provide critical information from not only our investors but also the St. Francois County Health Department, CDC, and state and federal offices, sending out 301 news releases during the year 2020 (including 108 releases in the month of March alone!)  While we were not able to great our investors in our office, we were working diligently behind the scenes to keep our Chamber investors and our community informed.

2020 also saw a great opportunity to revive our Chamber e-newsletter.  The new eye-catching format is easy to follow, and another great way to keep up with news, events, and what’s going on with your fellow Chamber investors.

Dealing with a year like 2020 calls for innovation.  Our Chamber was pressed to find new and innovative ways to help our business community, show support for our community at large, and keep our Chamber relevant.  Here are just a few of the innovations that took place.
  1.  We used technology to broadcast live from our investor meetings and streamed them on our Facebook page.  Even if you couldn’t attend the meeting, you could benefit from the information that was shared.
  2. We found innovative ways to promote our investors, by filming video commercials of them to share on our new YouTube page and social media sites.
  3. We created Project “We Love Our Central Rebel Seniors”.  This project placed 216 signs in community yards to show support for our kids, during one of the strangest senior years in Central High School history!
  4. We created “Project Gift Card”.  This incredibly innovative project offered gift cards to participating Chamber investor businesses, during a time when business was all but impossible due to Covid.  Plus – we matched the sales for participating companies.  We sole More than $1400 in sales and paid out an additional $1759.  This is all sales that couldn’t have happened without this innovative program.
  5. Lastly – a brand new, incredibly fun, excitingly innovative program was born – Shopopoly, which Heather Garner talked about earlier. If you haven’t watched the video on YouTube yet, you absolutely have to!
So, if you’re keeping score in our game – how many of you got all three questions right?  Let’s see a show of hands.  Great job to all of you!  But here is the great part of the whole thing, your Park Hills Leadington Chamber of Commerce is still here, still working and we all win when we choose to be a part of the greater community!

While we were unable to hold a lot of the events that we normally have during 2021, we are hoping to restore some of the favorites in 2021.  With COVID cases decreasing, we are indeed planning to have an annual banquet this year, just a little later than normal.  We also hope to bring back Sweetheart Trivia this summer.  After all – sweetheart trivia doesn’t have to happen on Valentine’s Day.  Right? 

Committees are meeting and making plans to jumpstart programs that were put on the back burner.  We are delighted to get to meet in person for our monthly meetings, and even for First Friday Coffee. 

Your Board of Directors is working in the background, creating a renewed structure for our Chamber, and working out long-range plans that will keep our Chamber relevant for many decades to come.  We invite you to participate.  Join in.  Invest in the Park Hills Leadington Chamber with your time and your talent.  Is there a Chamber project that interests you?  Ask how you can volunteer.  Would you like to get in on the leadership side of the Chamber?  Let someone know that you’re interested in being on the Board of Directors.  Do you want to get the most out of your membership by increasing your network and making new contacts?  Join the Ambassadors. 

The most important thing you can do is invest in our Chamber.  Come to the meetings when you can, come to those ribbon cuttings and meet new people, and increase your network, and theirs.  Join in on activities, keep up with your newsletter.  All of these things are designed to help you build your business. 

We are looking forward to sharing 2021 with you, whatever this year may bring.  Together we can do things that we can never do alone.

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