The Bennington Area Chamber of CommercE
So many businesses and organizations, including Chambers, are facing futures of uncertainty and tremendous demands. Some need to reinvent themselves; others must transform into something completely new and different.
With that in mind, the Bennington Area Chamber staff and Board of Directors met multiple times in 2016 to create a comprehensive, well thought-out strategic plan - what we're calling our "2020 Vision." Led by Deborah Mackin, our strategic planning facilitator, we met a total of 10+ hours to craft what we think is an audacious and exciting vision for the future of our organization.
Our 2020 Vision:
To become a regionally recognized Chamber for membership growth and assistance, operational and leadership excellence, and a catalyst for Southern Vermont economic development.
Six Key Strategies:
In order to achieve this vision, we identified 6 key strategies we think are necessary. These strategies include: Organizational Commitment, Operational Excellence, Membership Service & Growth, Branding and Communication, Financial Growth, and Innovation.
6 SMART Goals:
From those key strategies we designed 6 SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, Time-Bound). The first goal is to enhance the ‘pathway’ to leadership and increase volunteerism within the Chamber. The second goal is to achieve operational excellence through office processes, communication, technology, customer service, and management that will drive efficiency. The third goal is to increase new membership growth annually by 25% and existing member retention rate to 92% annually. Goal number four is to create and implement a responsive, flexible Chamber brand and a comprehensive communication plan which includes website growth (60% visitation increase), social media expansion and membership awareness. The fifth goal is to increase financial revenue from all sources by 20% yearly and embrace Lean financial concepts through reporting, forecasting, and better waste management. Finally the sixth goal is to seek cutting-edge technology and innovation by creating a more entrepreneurial, collaborative and risk-tolerant culture in the Chamber. From these goals we created a list of 3-year initiatives to achieve the goals. All of these goals have a date of 2020 to be accomplished.
Key Tasks in the Next Year: As part of this vision we have taken first steps based on our goals to have this vision become a reality.
New Website: Early in this year we will be launching a comprehensive, beautifully design new website. Within this website, we have directed our Chamber Media Project team to continue to write and publish stories focused on our members. This buzz-feed style website will work well for visitors and tourists looking for ‘the best burgers in town,’ or ‘where to take my kids on a rainy day in Bennington’ or ‘how to shop local on a shoestring budget.’ Additionally, this new robust website will have a community calendar feature, what’s on tap section, area recreation and attractions, as well as an area directory. As we look to grow regionally, this website will adapt and mature as our membership grows into the Manchester and the mountain regions to better represent those members.
Regional Area Guide: In early May, we will unveil our yearly area guide. This year we have rebooted the area guide to be more regional-friendly. The new design will come with a new name for the guide, 60 more pages, 70,000 in distribution numbers throughout the east coast, a larger map on the interior and a focus on the full region and all the assets that we have here.
Regional Mixers and Events: As we progress through the year, our events and mixers will start to become region-based.
Southern-wide Advocacy: As we work with legislators and the Vermont Chamber, a close partner for us, we will continue to advocate for Bennington along with Arlington, Manchester, the mountains and the small hamlets throughout the region. Our focus will be on bringing valuable resources and attention to the southern part of the state and representing the full region in our advocacy efforts.
Shires of Vermont: Our partnership with the Shires of Vermont RMO is crucial for our development as a regional chamber. Throughout this coming year, we will be leaning on their brand and their regional approach as we look to develop key relationships throughout the area.
IN THE NEWS:
Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce plans to expand into regional chamber (Manchester Journal, March 23, 2017) - Read Here
What can the Bennington Chamber do for Northshire? (Bennington Banner, February 23, 2017) - Read Here
Bennington Chamber Unveils New Content-Rich, Tourist-Friendly Website (VTDigger, February 2, 2017) - Read Here
Our View: The Chamber Has It Right (Bennington Banner, January 25, 2017) - Read Here
Bennington Chamber hopes to expand to cover entire county (Manchester Journal, January 20, 2017) - Read Here