The most recent example is the addition of 33 new members to the organization within the last month.
That success was the immediate result of a membership drive, the first in memory of anyone in the organization's leadership. Sometimes just asking someone to join, making them aware of what you do, will result in successes. That has something to do with the recent huge success, but it is unlikely that so many businesses owners would have decided to join the business promotion organization had they not seen advantage in it.
Most board members of the chamber, credit much of the success of the drive to the event's coordinator, Scott Ballard. Ballard is the ever positive partner to Dale Hudler in West End Wreaths. He tends to see the negatives in the path of a project and makes the best use of positives surrounding it.
Organization of the membership drive didn't work quite the way it was anticipated. So the event's leadership scraped a plan for a phone bank of recruiters and turned their attention to face to face contacts. That ability to look for the need and move to solve an issue is important. This is the real world. People and organizations are imperfect. They fail. They need to make improvements. They need to alter their direction and move toward solutions.
The chamber – in this instance through the leadership of Ballard and others – has shown success.
They had a passion for what they were doing and sought to promote the chamber. The Ashe Chamber can be a significant force in the sustenance and development of business and employment opportunity in this county.
A common complaint among chamber members in communities where I have lived is that they don't believe they are getting anything from their membership. In some places existing members were getting little. Most of those chambers provided the service of first promoting chamber members when someone called for a referral.
The Ashe Chamber has been doing a better job over the last two years of promoting the area as a tourist donation. That is a direct form of promotion for every business in the county.
Going beyond those activities that we often take for granted however, the Ashe chamber has looked seriously at what it can do for existing businesses that we know are struggling. A year ago, the chamber board heard the complaint that members just didn't know what they were getting.
The response, in part has been the Small Business Development Initiative. One of the quickest successes of that group has been direct business management advice to suffering businesses free of charge. In less than a year, the effort has helped a dozen local businesses make improvements.
Learn more about this effort later this week on the news pages of the Jefferson Post and jeffersonpost.com.