February 19, 2013

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Pay Your Dues Making the Most of Chamber Membership

John Coon

February 19, 2013

Local radio is a medium of choice for the Salt Lake Chamber. Lane Beattie, the chamber president, voices Utah Business Report, a weekly report airing on KSL radio. It spotlights selected businesses belonging to the chamber, sharing the story of the business with listeners.

Utah Business Report reaches approximately 75,000 listeners per week. These spots are linked to the chamber website, and links are also provided to each business that is profiled for promotional use on their own website.

Similar reports are also distributed to Utah radio stations owned by Cumulus Broadcasting. Small businesses simply can’t buy that kind of exposure on their own and treasure the chamber’s efforts to do it on their behalf.

“The small businesses that engage and use that tool love it because it doesn’t cost them any money,” Walker says. “They actually see value. That’s a great benefit that they love—that additional exposure.”

The Utah Valley Chamber regularly spotlights local small businesses on Taking Care of Business, a 30-minute TV program that airs on Provo Channel 17. Hosted by Chamber President Val Hale, each broadcast reaches approximately 25,000 viewers throughout Utah County. Each broadcast is also linked to the chamber website.

The benefits of this television program reach further than the businesses in question—it is also a means for the Utah Valley Chamber to showcase the business climate available to companies in the Utah Valley.

Hale says companies are more likely to set up roots in a place with a favorable eco-nomic climate and high quality of life. Pulling out all the stops to promote local businesses can help encourage business growth.

“Our slogan is that we make Utah Valley a better place. That’s our goal. That’s our mission statement,” Hale says. “These companies that are coming here are looking for a place where they can attract employees. We try to explain to businesses that this is a great place to work, a great place to live and a great place to play. Our role as a chamber is to try to help preserve that and enhance it.”

All About Education

Building a successful business starts with learning how to grow that business into something that can thrive long term. A chamber of commerce can play a huge role in providing resources to business owners looking to build their business.

Education ranks as one of the most important resources available to chamber members. This can involve classes, workshops or training seminars. Continuing-education programs allow a small business owner to learn about doing everything that goes into running a business from balancing a budget to dealing with difficult employees.

The Salt Lake Chamber, for example, includes an employer’s toolkit on its website. This page offers help on how to handle the cost of doing business—such as paying for healthcare.

Education goes hand in hand with workforce development for many local chambers. Learning the finer details of running a business helps both new business owners who need to learn the ropes and business veterans who can dispense a large amount of useful advice.

Jevine Lane, the director of programs and the business resource center at the Sandy Chamber, says that getting members involved in both parts of educational process helps everyone.

“We’re open to having our members teach,” Lane says. “Education is pretty huge here because everyone has knowledge of what their industry is. They can always bring something to the table for other people.”

Lane and the Sandy Chamber have taken steps to facilitate a larger outreach for its educational resources. This has included launching an online business center where chamber members can access previously recorded workshops and training seminars around the clock.

“This is going to be a value add for our members,” Lane says. “They’re going to be able to log in and review all of those workshops that took place last year and going forward. Everything from emergency preparedness to tax tips to social media. We feel like it is a pretty good value to do that.”

A Business Advocate

When Hale worked as a vice president at Utah Valley University before taking over as the president of the Utah Valley Chamber, he saw firsthand the weight the Utah Valley Chamber carried at the state capitol. When the chamber threw its support behind an initiative championed by UVU, it had an immediate effect of getting the legislature to take it seriously.

Now in his leadership role with the Utah Valley Chamber, Hale works hard to advocate for the business interests of chamber members because he understands just how important the chamber is in creating a friendly business climate.

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