On a more granular level, increasing member to member interaction is paramount. We host a number of events that not only facilitate networking with our city’s business and legislative leaders, but that also lead to new business opportunities. Chamber leadership and executive committees are committed to connecting members with potential partners and customers, and to providing the support, education and other resources to help them succeed.
In addition, the Chamber is embracing digital transformation, internally and externally. To compete in both the short and long-term, businesses must align themselves with the realities of The Next Generation Workplace, and a workforce that favors new mediums of interaction, flexible policies such as workshifting and telework. Further, as six of every 10 adults now consumes news and information from social media channels, the Chamber is evolving its communications, marketing and member advocacy accordingly.
What is something new the chamber is doing this year? As I mentioned above, the Baltimore City Chamber is all in on digital. Among our new initiatives are member spotlights, business advocacy and multi-channel marketing outreach – both on members’ and the chambers’ behalf - that reach each target constituency. In the coming weeks, we’ll also be launching a new digital ‘Program with the President,’ where I’ll be interviewing different members via podcast, video, etc., each month who can share what’s most important to them. We want our members to have every opportunity to be seen and heard; for some that means talking about their business, for others it may be voicing concern over pending legislation. Whatever the message, the Baltimore City Chamber will advocate accordingly.
How does the chamber attract new small business members? The most compelling factor for small businesses is knowing that joining the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce will deliver tangible benefits and resources to help them grow. Our membership is comprised of our city’s foremost business, legislative and community leaders, and harnessing their expertise is key. In addition to our ongoing commitment to finding new means through which to deliver value to our current members – regardless of size, many of our new initiatives are geared to augment business development by providing resources and support otherwise not available (or affordable) to startups and small businesses. It is important that we create an atmosphere where our members have access to the people, tools, and subject matter expertise that current members bring to the table.
What new programs has the chamber added or expanded over the past years to better attract and retain members? One of the biggest and most obvious changes we’ve made as a Chamber is our activity. We have gone from 10-12 events per year to 30 in 2016, and are on track for upwards of 50 by the end of 2017. We have a very engaged events committee led by board member, Richard Craft. A few of these new events include our Business After Dark events and general meetings. Both events provide additional opportunities for chamber members to connect, share best practices and educate one another. In addition, we’ve created a CEO Roundtable, led by member, business consultant and radio host Allan Hirsh, which is an opportunity for owners and CEOs to come together as an advisory group to learn new strategies on how to better manage their business. We are also in the process of launching what we’re calling CCOIs — Chamber Center of Influences — which will serve as a referral group through which members can develop deeper relationships with one another in order to help generate quality business leads. Lastly, we’re very excited to announce that we’ll be expanding upon our Business Development Day currently scheduled for July 13.
How do you see the current economy in Baltimore growing? Baltimore’s economy is poised for tremendous growth, and I’m very excited about our future. You really can’t talk about Baltimore’s economy without mentioning Under Armour and Sagamore Development. Kevin Plank is a case study in inspiration and his companies’ success and commitment to Baltimore continue to shine a positive spotlight on our City. The 20-year plan to develop Port Covington will provide endless opportunities for Baltimore-based businesses to grow and expand. In addition, there are several other projects throughout the city that are currently in development such as: the East Baltimore Development Initiative, which will transform the land around Johns Hopkins Hospital; Innovation Village, which aims to make West Baltimore a technology hub; and the expansion of Tide Point and Harbor East, which has transformed the Harbor’s waterfront.
What has been your career path? For the past 10-plus years, I have helped businesses within the Baltimore metro area of all sizes and industries create exposure for their products and services through marketing and advertising efforts. I’ve been involved with the Baltimore City Chamber for the past four years, initially as a member who participated on the events committee, which led to the chair of the events committee and an eventual board of directors position. This engagement as a volunteer led to the interim president position, and through my efforts over the past five months I was just recently elected to lead our organization as president.