In 2011, the Chamber had an opportunity to consider its mission, consider its strengths and challenges and identify its aspirations through a six-month strategic planning process.
The completed plan included this new statement of the Chamber’s mission: “The Howard County Chamber of Commerce helps businesses grow and succeed by being your voice in the community, facilitating connections, and providing the resources you need.”
The plan also lays out goals related to five key issues: the impact the Chamber has on the business community, its connectivity to members and supporters, increasing membership, advancing advocacy efforts and growing its resources.
A committee made up of 10 of the Chamber’s directors met regularly to gather input from staff and volunteers, create a draft and fine-tune the strategies and action items. Board member Marc Rubin led the committee throughout the process.
“Creating the Strategic Plan was an important process to look carefully at where the Chamber is today, to think big about where it can be in a few years and to identify what really needs to happen to get there,” said Pam Klahr, Chamber president and CEO. “It is also the roadmap for implementing new programs and procedures in a thoughtful and focused way.”
In terms of impact, the Chamber is proud of its reputation as a resource for the business community and its ability to rally that community when there is an important cause. Going forward, the organization plans to serve its members through a focus on workforce development, upgrade its use of technology and expand its influence on workforce growth and retention in the region.
Connectivity is currently advanced through events that draw large crowds and showcase the organization. Member lunches with timely speakers, popular social events like the Signature Event and the Jingle Mingle holiday party, the State of the County Address and legislative activities that bring businesses and lawmakers together are all popular and effective elements that the Chamber offers.
Next steps in this area include greater use of the Ambassador Program, making connections with an aging workforce, creating new partnerships and reaching out through new technologies.
Outreach to new and diverse businesses is part of the plan for increasing membership, as is an effort to grow and communicate member benefits. New legislative initiatives can build on the strong efforts and powerful voice the Chamber has in place. Efforts also will be made to build upon the strong board of directors, staff and volunteers that can ensure the organization has plentiful resources to fulfill its mission.
With these principles and priorities in place, the Chamber is looking forward to a future where it will grow its membership, effect positive changes in the regional business climate and be known as a source of knowledge, tools and influence for businesses of all sizes.