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HARDY: Albany chamber launching campaign

Chris Hardy

Chris Hardy

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce (AACoC) sets goals to make our business community a viable and growing entity in southwest Georgia. We include these goals in strategic plans, committee and division reports, board of directors meetings and any other opportunity that presents itself. Often times we are asked, “What does the Chamber do?” My answer to that is “we do the things that most people think just happens.”

During the days of Tuesday-Thursday our Chamber will be conducting our 2013 Growing Together Membership Campaign to help grow our Chamber. By growing our membership we can provide valuable resources in enhancing the development of our future business leaders, creating a solid bridge between the business community and public education, and adding additional tools that will assist small business through our Small Business Resource Committee. We ARE the voice of business and the more voices we have the stronger we are. Though growing our membership is our “priority” during the Growing Together Membership Drive, here is what our businesses and fellow Chamber members can do to help us accomplish many of the goals we set forth each year.

Be attentive (look for the AACoC door sticker), wherever you are, for opportunities to help another Chamber member or business. If each of our 1,000 + members of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce helped just three other Chamber members or businesses every few weeks the results would be huge and powerful. Multiply this kind of goodwill in helping our business community thrive, and imagine how it will come back around.

We can help our friends and fellow businesses accomplish their goals and hope people who care about us will help us accomplish our goals. To be more specific, we can use our personal and professional relationships to provide a warm introduction and endorsement for a colleague. This is something YOUR Chamber staff does on a daily basis along with many of our volunteer leaders. We can each eagerly agree to give informational services to other Chamber members and businesses to help them be more successful. It’s all about sharing the knowledge each of us has gained in our careers to help others. The more successful each business is, the better our business community will be. So, what I am asking is that we all buy everyday consumables and our once-in-awhile goods and services from fellow Chamber members and local small businesses.

We always encourage our Chamber members to do business with fellow members, but if the opportunity doesn’t present itself for whatever reason we encourage them to do business with local businesses regardless of Chamber membership. This is how we will thrive and prosper by supporting our own business community when the need arises. I understand online shopping has its advantages, but if we stop for a second and consider the disadvantage it gives our small businesses it could give us a moment of pause before purchasing an item or service online rather than a face to face transaction. It’s easy to find a Chamber member who offers a needed product or service, all you have to do is visit our website at www.albanyga.com and search by category in our online membership directory.

When we are fortunate enough to do a good deed for another Chamber member or local business, consider this sentiment that Benjamin Franklin expressed in a letter to Benjamin Webb in 1784 about a small loan. “I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When you meet with another in need, you must pay me by lending this sum to them; enjoining them to discharge the debt by a like operation, when they shall be able, and shall meet another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets a stop in progress.”

We can look at this in many ways and come up with a variance of meanings however; I choose to take this as a reference to keeping a dollar flowing locally so that it benefits those around us and we can all enjoy the benefits it brings. Let me end with a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 when he referenced Chambers of Commerce and giving back. In 1908 President Roosevelt referenced membership organizations by saying “every person owes a part of their time and money to the business or industry in which they are engaged. No person has a moral right to withhold their support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within their sphere.”

We hope you join us Tuesday-Thursday by joining our Chamber of Commerce and be a part of making a positive change, if you are already a member we say thank you and help us spread the word.

Chris Hardy is president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.