Officials share chamber’s accomplishments

By Melanie Speicher -

BOTKINS — The accomplishments of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce were shared by its president, outgoing chairman and incoming chairman during the annual dinner and awards banquet Tuesday evening at the Palazzo in Botkins. More than 200 chamber members and guests were in attendance.

A successful chamber, said President Jeff Raible, means businesses who belong to chambers also find success when a person is planning a shopping trip.

“According to a national study conducted by the Shapiro Group in Atlanta, when consumers know a business is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they are 51 percent more likely to be aware of the business; 57 percent more likely to think positively about the business, and 63 percent more likely to purchase goods and services from the business,” said Raible.

The purpose of the chamber, he said is to help its members achieve a higher level of success.

“The methods we employ to accomplish this are threefold,” said Raible. “One, we offer visibility enhancement programs to strengthen our member’s presence in the marketplace and community. Two, we offer affinity style programs to help our members save money on their ordinary operating costs.

“And three, we sponsor employee development programs to help our member companies and their employees make better decisions,” he said.

In 2016, the chamber co-hosted 13 business networking events attended by more than 1,300 people. They had 13 member ribbon cutting, grand opening and ground breaking ceremonies.

“The Chamber’s annual gift certificate sales last year surpassed $120,000,” said Raible. “This buy local program helps keep Shelby County dollars in the cash registers of our local business community and more specifically in the coffers of our members.”

Helping chamber members save money is also a goal of the local organization, he said.

“Our collective buying power gives many members access to discounts they alone wouldn’t qualify for. In 2016 Chamber members collectively saved amounts approaching $1 million through participation in our member affinity programs,” said Raible.

“Those of note included our Workers Comp Group Rating Program, IGS Energy discount, Shelby County Safety Council Participation Incentives, discounted small group health and dental insurance, document destruction discounts, shipping discounts, and more,” he said.

The chamber hosted 12 seminars and workshops in 2016 through its employee development initiative program. More than 400 employees attended the seminars.

“We helped 270 of your employees on a monthly basis stay up to date on best practices related to Workplace Safety, Human Resources Management, LEAN Enterprise fundamentals, General Manufacturing, and Food Manufacturing processes. Collectively these special interest Councils conducted more than 40 lunch and learn style workshops this past year,” Raible said.

The Chamber Foundation funded 21 grant applications totaling more than $19,000 in 2016, he said. The grants were awarded to member schools and other education focused entities in the county.

“Included in this funding were significant grants to the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County and the Shelby County Libraries capital campaign,” said Raible. “It is our continuing belief that better prepared students in the classroom will translate to higher performing employees in the workplaces of our members.”

Raible said the chamber, which is in its 72nd year of existence, is ready for 2017.

The formation of YPConnect for young professionals is one of the chamber’s new endeavors. The organization will meet monthly at Brew Nation at 7:30 a.m. and quarterly at 4:30 p.m.

“Why is the Chamber involved? Our motivation to launch this young professionals group is to help area YPs professionally and socially anchor deeper into our community for the benefit of both the young professionals themselves and our member companies who employ them,” said Raible.

“The credit for getting YPConnect off the ground goes to its steering committee comprised of Amanda Anderson at Fifth Third Bank, Ashley Himes with State Farm Insurance, Justin Spillers at Faulkner, Garmhausen, Keister & Shenk, and Mark Hoge with McCrate DeLaet,” he said.

In March, May, July and September, four workshops will be led by chamber member Marketing Essentials which will assist businesses with its online marketing presence. In the spring, the chamber will be co-hosting the Economic Outlook Luncheon with the YMCA and Community Foundation of Shelby County.

In a joint effort, the chamber and NKTelco have created two community videos which promote Shelby County. The first highlights the quality of life in the county and the second promotes doing business in the county.

“So all in all, the year 2016 has been a good one for the Chamber. In 2016 we welcomed 37 new members into the organization and concluded the year with a total membership of 530 organizations doing business in Shelby County,” said Raible.

“In 2016 the Chamber enjoyed a 94 percent membership retention rate and a new member retention rate of 94 percent as well. Both averages compare very favorably to national metrics for Chambers our size.” he said.

Outgoing chairman John Eve shared his experiences about being president in 2016.

“The membership retention percentage at the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce is as high as you will find anywhere for Chambers our size. The credit for this belongs both with you and with the organization itself. The Shelby County business community is one of strength and unity,” said Eve. “I’ve heard it said many times that you can accomplish much more together than you can ever accomplish alone. This is the underlying spirit of our chamber.”

He thanked his fellow board members for their dedication and commitment to making the board meetings productive and enjoyable.

He recognized the past board chairmen and past Zenith Award winners who were present for the dinner.

Incoming chairman John Koltak, who said he’s not a fan of speeches, encouraged each member of the chamber to talk to the board members and let them know what they need from the chamber.

Outgoing board members Tom Burns and Tom Martin were recognized for the time they have served on the board.

By Melanie Speicher