• So, What Exactly Does A Chamber of Commerce Do?

    So, What Exactly Does A Chamber of Commerce Do?

    The earliest Chamber of Commerce in the United States came about on April 22, 1912. While it still exists today, it isn’t the oldest.  The very first documented chamber of commerce was created in 1599 in Marseille, France. Its purpose was to gather merchants, industrialists, traders, and craftsmen in order to discuss and tackle community challenges.  Their voice soon became a persuasive power among public authorities and the community. This trend of communal problem-solving spread throughout the centuries and around the world.

    Today, almost every community has a local Chamber of Commerce, which mostly share the same overall goal to help to further the interests of small businesses in a local area. The activities can range from hosting events to lobbying local representatives to charitable works for the betterment of the community.  Chambers of Commerce give small business owners the opportunity to meet with other local business owners to network, which is essential to the community’s economic growth.  Chamber of Commerce organizations are not out-of-the-box, cookie-cutter setups. Every chamber is somewhat unique, with different benefits, resources, and opportunities.  However, their end goal is the same: to serve as an influential voice and power that stands for the well-being of the local business environment.  Everything from regular networking events to promotion packages, Chamber memberships help gain opportunities to make connections, meet potential new clients, and grow brand exposure.
    Being a member of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce gains credibility.  We have a great reputation for standing up for the local community and its economy.  When this vision aligns with a local business, it gives the perception that we all stand united for these things.  Along with credibility, this alignment gains future investors’ trust, which ultimately leads to a dynamic Economic Development impact on the community.
    We provide exposure for ALL BUSINESSES, including start-ups, entrepreneurs/solo-prineurs, and large companies.  All members are featured via our online directory, which is used frequently by individuals and businesses within the area.  New members are also often given various forms of exposure when they sign on for the first time.  This includes exposure through newsletters & social media posts.  And there is no lack of networking opportunities.  From committees to social mixers to ribbon cuttings, members find various opportunities to connect with other businesses on a regular basis.  Both B2B and B2C companies find these types of events super beneficial considering the connections made, which ultimately can lead to new customers and partnerships.  Regardless of the members’ size and industry, support is key.  Support from like-minded people can lead to success. 
    We also open doors to referrals, while playing a part in consumer behavior.  Part of our job is linking companies and individuals to the resources they are seeking. This includes many calls and emails, often directly linking the members. When a request is made that the members’ business can help with, we are the connection between the two. Consider these statistics from American Business Magazine:

    • 44% of consumers are more likely to think favorably of businesses who are members of their local chamber
    • 63% of consumers are more likely to buy products or services from businesses that are members of their local chamber
    • Consumers view chamber of commerce members as trustworthy and are 12% more likely to believe their products or services are better than competitors
    We do so much more than serve as a marketing vehicle for local businesses.  We serve an important role in local government affairs as well. We serve as a voice for the local business owners and industries. This includes addressing issues that may arise with new regulations, fees, taxes, costs, or assessments applicable to the businesses we serve.  When a business/organization joins a chamber, it becomes a part of that voice.  Each plays a relevant role, as each opinion becomes part of the many contributed voices that form the chamber's views.
    BOTTOM LINE:  The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce (we) should be viewed as your business partner.  We are a valuable tool for any small business owner and it should be fully embraced.  There are many resources that many business owners tap into, such as online groups or social media.  However, that leaves a largely untapped resource on the community level.  We serve as your local community resource while helping keep small businesses alive.  We also serve as an authority to find products and services.  While being used as a viable resource in that capacity, our members receive free promotion that spills over to the ability to market their business to business. 

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