President’s Message: A Busy Time

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I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season. In the swirl of business and politics, we sometimes forget to remember what is really important!

While winter is a slow season for some, it is probably one of the more active times at the Chamber. We are in the midst of our Launch VT business accelerator work, we are engaging high school students with businesses through the TIPS program, Leadership Champlain moves towards graduation; winter events like the Silent Auction are taking shape, we are rushing head-long towards the Taste of Vermont in our nation’s capital and our annual Chamber Challenge fundraiser. Member visits continue, ensuring that the Chamber really understands what you, our members, want and expect from us. One might think that tourism slows down in the winter. While the raw number of visitors decreases, we see a steady stream of folks stopping at our centers on their way to and from skiing. Our Tourism Ambassadors do their best to convert folks to ‘year round’ returnees. The Vermont Council on World Affairs programming offers members a diversity of opportunities from cultural trips to locations like Albania, China and Cuba; learning opportunities through its Ambassador Series; community engagement with the new American population and; opportunities to host international visitors. The Convention Bureau never slows down-especially in the winter- as staff attend trade shows and books meetings and events at venues across the state. Finally, the Quebec Initiative is diligently working with our Agency of Commerce to attract companies looking for a US presence.

I am constantly asked about the Chamber’s work to support its members and the communities where our members have their businesses. It’s hard to give that ‘elevator pitch’ answer since this Chamber is unique in the breadth and scope of its services. Our staff is always looking for ways to add value for your membership – and for your employees. One of the big ‘take-aways’ from our member visits was the fact that so many members were unaware of the money saving opportunities that their employees can take advantage of from insurance to savings on special events. We have committed to do a much better job at communicating the value of membership.

Finally, no President’s Message can be complete without a reference to our advocacy work in Montpelier. Regardless of your views or political affiliation, we need to hear from you! What is it that you need to make your business more successful, to help support the economic health of your employees and make your communities stronger? We are only as good as the input you give us. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any Chamber staff. We want to be your partner in success.

As always, you can drop me a line at tom@vermont.org.

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