Kim Gillis: Salisbury Chamber will not rest on its laurels

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As we embark upon 2016 at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, I am proud to follow in the footsteps of the many great leaders before me who built the solid foundation and have lead this organization, including many people I look up to and have learned from over the years.

My journey with the Chamber started many years ago when I joined the Young Professionals committee and became one of the co-chairs. After serving in this capacity for a number of years, I was then asked to serve on the Board of Directors.

While serving on the board, the Chamber underwent a major organizational reshuffling, and following those changes I became part of the leadership team for the Membership Division. Ultimately, here we are today where I have the great honor to serve as Chairperson for the SACC Board of Directors

I’m proud to have worked my way through this organization, and the Young Professionals committee was a great starting point for me to learn many valuable lessons about leadership, networking, community service, and personal and professional development.

I feel extremely fortunate to help lead the Chamber during this exciting time for our community. I firmly believe our community is headed in a positive direction with great progress on many fronts, including synergy and collaboration amongst our community’s business, civic and government leaders.

Working together we can continue to improve this great community in which we work, live and play.

In preparation for 2016, the SACC Board of Directors recently hosted a strategic planning session and board retreat to help provide direction for the year ahead. As part of this process, we also engaged our Past Presidents for their input and insight which helped provide food for thought for the strategic planning session. Our goal is to continue to engage the Past Presidents through the Chamber and the Chamber Foundation.

Their institutional knowledge, strong leadership, and passion for improving our community is invaluable. During the Board retreat we outlined a healthy and productive program of work, which is currently underway.

We will continue to tweak the organizational reshuffle started a few years ago to fine tune communication, efficiency and effectiveness in how we operate and serve not only our members but also our region.

We will not rest on our laurels, but will continue dialogue to ensure we remain relevant. We’re proud to be an organization lead by its members, where many ideas and initiatives grow at the grassroots level from within our membership and division networks. The Chamber’s Divisions remain diligent and dedicated to our mission.

Advocacy and Government Relations Division – continue to cultivate the positive working relationships with our City, County & State Representatives. I can assure you the voice of our members and this business community are being heard by our leaders. We are proud to maintain open and ongoing dialogue with our local leaders, and will continue to actively work together to strengthen our community. Through these efforts we were able to host industry specific forums where members could connect with our local leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities in a productive manner. Based on discussions that arose at these forums, the Chamber is working to help identify solutions on a number of items.

Membership Division — Continue to focus on member recruitment and retention. With tremendous growth over the past few years, we now have more than 840 regional members. Our goal is to continue to grow our membership by being relevant to members and providing quality networking and professional development opportunities. We believe the most effective way to maximize membership value is to be active and engaged, so we encourage all members to contact our Chamber staff to see how they can get more involved. If we know your goals for Chamber membership benefits we can help customize a plan to meet those goals for the coming year.

Business & Economic Development Division — One really exciting initiative is our goal to expand our reach and effectiveness to a more regional level. With the creation of the Regional Economic Development team, we are working to pull together resources throughout the region to strengthen our collective efforts and voice. As the hub of Eastern Shore, our community is well positioned and stands ready to seize opportunities that come from working together.

Community Outreach Division — Continue to improve our community thru clean up, recycling and beautification efforts. We also have an active education network with representation from our K-12 and higher education institutions, working together toward some exciting new initiatives for this year.

In the year ahead we will begin the re-accreditation process. There are more than 7,000 Chambers in the United States, and less than 200 are accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce. The Salisbury Chamber has been a 4-star accredited chamber since 1966 and ranks in the top 1 percent in the country. The Salisbury Chamber is the “only” accredited chamber in the state of Maryland. We are proud of this prestigious designation, and thank our members for helping us rank among the best!

Another ongoing initiative is the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). We are in year one of a three year commitment for the YEA! program, which is an intense after school program that transforms local middle and high school students into real, confident business owners. Through this program students learn how to start and operate their own business or social movement. The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in our community, and what an incredible opportunity to begin to cultivate this culture within our younger generations.

Personally, I am looking forward to working with the incredible members, board and staff to continue the mission of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, and am dedicated to ensuring that we remain THE indispensable business organization.

Kim Gillis, a senior associate at Becker Morgan Group, is the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chair.

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