Would this be a chamber that we would want to be a part of if we were a small business?” Our staff asks this question every morning before we start our work at the chamber. We know that there has to be a real Return On Investment for many small businesses these days. Your choice of chamber is no exception.
We want the Bennington Area Chamber, which represents the full Shires of Vermont region (Bennington County), to be a wise and strategic partner with you in your journey. What are you passionate about? What do you want out of your business? What keeps you up at night? No matter if you’re a small, local business, a nonprofit organization dealing with the changing landscape of services, or a larger organization that is retrofitting both your business model and employee culture for the next generation, we want you to feel that our chamber is the right choice and fit for you.
As a chamber we are constantly looking at ways to bring visitors and prospects to the region, while also providing resources and services to our vast array of membership organizations that are already here.
We encourage you to get involved with our monthly networking mixers, industry-specific Coffee and Conversations program, Lunch and Learns, task forces about specific business challenges, advertising opportunities, Shires Young Professionals and many more business services we offer. Additionally, our weekly e-blast, Chamber LIVE show on Facebook, Shirenomics E-zine, Tourism Newsletter, and column in the local newspapers are ongoing ways that we want to connect and communicate with you about important issues.
Advocacy and giving our members a voice in local, state and national politics is also something that we work at hard. Our ongoing relationship with the Vermont Chamber, Attorney General’s office, state government, local legislators, and trips to Montpelier provide us with direct, unfettered access to these key offices so that our members feel that they have a voice.
We’re not all business though! As an organization that focuses as much on community as we do on commerce, we love to host great award-winning events like the annual Garlicfest, Winterfest and Restaurant Weeks. We are also producing new events like the Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival and the Home for the Holidays Celebration. The key is to get involved! Help out! Meet your fellow members and give back to the community.
Most of all, we want you to know that you are what makes up our Chamber, a collective group of diverse and creative people and businesses creating a community where people want to dine, shop, play and stay! Please be sure to stay in touch with us as a resource, a sounding board, a coach, and a friend if you need anything.
On behalf of the Shires of Vermont, welcome to the Bennington Area Chamber.
1. WHAT IS A CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
The Chamber of Commerce is an organization usually found in many towns or cities throughout the U.S. whose goal is to further the interests of businesses and build an ecosystem that provides the right supports for those businesses. Somewhat unique in Vermont, our Chambers also tend to focus on tourism and marketing the area as well. The Bennington Area Chamber has been incorporated for over 60 years and is one of the main staples of economic and community growth in Bennington County.
2. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR FUNDING?
Our funding comes from multiple sources, which actually makes a very stable organization. Our main source of income comes from membership dues. We rely on our events (tickets, vendors, merchandise) to help with our funding. We also have organizations that believe in the overall mission of the Chamber to create a vibrant business and community ecosystem and show that support through sponsorship.
3. WHAT TYPE OF MEMBERS MAKE UP THE CHAMBER?
What’s great about the Bennington Area Chamber is its diversification in our membership with over 350 members currently. We have members from all walks of life: healthcare, manufacturing, non-profits, education, government, retail, technology, lodging, restaurants, professional services, artists, start-ups, small businesses and “friends of the Chamber” who join because they believe in the mission.
4. WHAT DOES THE CHAMBER FOCUS ON THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
The Chamber focuses on creating a vibrant and healthy business climate for new, current and future businesses to grow and succeed in the region. We also focus on tourism and bringing in day-trippers, weekenders, vacationers and possible re-locators into Bennington to use the products and services of our members.
5. I’M A BUSINESS, WHAT HELP CAN THE CHAMBER PROVIDE ME?
The Chamber provides a vast array of benefits to its members. Our area guide, which lists our members and other area information, is distributed throughout the northeast. We produce about 80,000 a year and update yearly. We also attend trade shows and expos throughout the Northeast (NYC, Connecticut, New Hampshire, etc.) to promote the area. We work with local and state government to create policy and laws to help businesses grow. We also want to provide “direct value” to our members too. We provide programs, classes, networking opportunities and expertise in building businesses. Think of us as a hub with many spokes to help you with all of your businesses needs. If we don’t have the answer or can’t provide the service directly, we’re committed to helping you find the agency that can.
6. WHAT IF I DECIDE THE CHAMBER IS NOT THE RIGHT FIT FOR ME BUT I’VE ALREADY SIGNED UP?
That’s okay. We may not be the right fit for everyone and we understand that. Simply let us know and we can take you off our membership. If done in an appropriate timeframe we can discuss reimbursement of funds.
7. WHAT IF I CAN’T PAY ALL MY DUES AT ONCE?
Not a problem. We are here to help. We can put you in a payment plan that works for you. Just call our offices and talk with our staff on how to do that.