Chamber Membership Up 10%

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Communities / Feb. 27, 2014 11:10am EST

2014, Though, Will Be a Challenge


Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of DuBois & King, was named Business Executive of the Year. (Herald / Bob Eddy) Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of DuBois & King, was named Business Executive of the Year. (Herald / Bob Eddy) Despite icy roads last Friday evening, some 64 people braved the roads to attend the annual meeting of the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce, where they enjoyed food by Black Krim Tavern, and entertainment by John Marshall of Sharon and a review of the year’s accomplishments.

The Chamber’s “Business Executive of the Year” award was presented to Jeffery Tucker of DuBois & King and the first-ever Business Excellence Award was presented to the Clara Martin Center.

Chamber Director Emma Schumann called 2013 “a year of transition.”

“There was a lot of ‘new’ while still continuing the programs the Chamber has done in the past; new leadership, new staff, new programs, new technology, and new members,” she said

Membership Increase


Linda Chambers accepted a Chamber award on behalf of the Clara Martin Center. (Herald / Bob Eddy) Linda Chambers accepted a Chamber award on behalf of the Clara Martin Center. (Herald / Bob Eddy) Major highlights from the past year include a significant increase in Chamber activity leading to a 10.2% increase in paid membership, which is not typical. As a comparison, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Schumann explained, experienced a decrease in membership of 2.2% in 2013.

New initiatives during 2013 were monthly member-to-member trainings, an expanded July 4 “Street Fest,” ribbon cutting ceremonies and open houses for new businesses in the region, a kick-off rally for the Last Mile Ride, and partnering with Gifford Medical Center to sponsor the Concerts on the Park Series during the summer.

Welcome Bags for Vermont Tech college students on the Randolph campus were also distributed last fall to more than 500 students. The Gifford Auxiliary Thrift Shop and other businesses reported seeing college students in town with maps and coupons from the bags in hand, Schumann said.


Chamber President Jonni Huntley-Spaulding, right, and David and Emma Schumann view a new Chamber membership video created by TC Webb and RTCC students. (Provided) Chamber President Jonni Huntley-Spaulding, right, and David and Emma Schumann view a new Chamber membership video created by TC Webb and RTCC students. (Provided) Technology use has significantly increased and the Chamber now uses social media frequently as a way to inform and promote members, she reported. Final work is being done on a phone app and new website.

Behind the scenes has been a conversion to new Chamber-specific software that integrates all aspects of social media, membership, billing, communications and advertising.

Challenges in 2014

2014 will be “the year of meeting challenges,” Schumann told the crowd. The Chamber will experience a significant loss in financial resources in 2014 as a result of it’s insurance program closing because of state health care reform. Two years ago, the Chamber predicted it would lose $34,000 when the VACE insurance program terminated, but at this point Schumann forsees a budget deficit of just $9,000 deficit for the coming year.

“It is difficult to approve a budget knowing you are not going to break even, but the Chamber has reserves that it has agreed to invest in its future,” Schumann said. She called the Chamber’s financial situation this year “make it or break it” and explained it would be operating on the principle explained best by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

Current Chamber programs will continue, and some will even be expanded, she said. New initiatives will include a manufacturing tour, a farm tour taking place on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, a wall calendar listing regional events.

Especially ambitious is a “summer sale extravaganza” pilot program that will coordinate sidewalk sales and outdoor tent sales for local businesses. In addition, the Chamber has received permission to display local information on the Exit 4 information board.

“We are making every effort to highlight regional business, promote our members, and bring tourists to the region,” said Schumann.

“By making those efforts, we believe the support for the Chamber will grow, our revenue will increase, and we will continue to serve the business community in the region for many years to come.”

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