As you may know, this time of year marks the point in our local municipal governments’ cycle to consider various appropriations requests from a variety of well-deserving organizations, with the charge of setting the town warrant for each resident’s consideration and vote. You may not know, however, that the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is one of these requesting organizations.
We are reaching out to you now, as tax payers and local citizens, for support with the hope that you have experienced firsthand the benefits of the Chamber’s presence in Franklin County.
The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization of business and civic leaders. I see our mission really as a two-pronged approach to our goal. The first part being that the Chamber exists to promote its members and their services, and to provide a voice for the interest of area businesses. And the second part being that, through partnerships with others, the Chamber seeks to support economic growth, job creation and retention, tourism, civic pride and cultural awareness.
We are indeed a dues-based organization, and I understand that people struggle with providing support for an organization that is charging for its services, but I believe this to primarily lie in the misunderstanding of what membership dues cover, and the Chamber’s mission to provide services above and beyond what the dues system supports. With dues revenue, the Chamber promotes its members through a variety of methods, including this monthly newsletter, social media channels, our annual Welcome Guide, and our dynamic new website. Dues help support the presence of the Welcome Center, located in Farmington, where members share their print materials and enjoy free meeting space and featured member opportunities; staff greets thousands of annual walk-in visitors looking for area information, and field thousands of phone and email requests about the area. Dues also allow the Chamber to advocate and inform members about concerning legislative issues, as well as providing access to affordable healthcare through the Chamber BlueOptions program, connecting them to a myriad of business resources and low cost advertising opportunities to help bolster our marketing efforts outside of Franklin County.
We work diligently to keep our dues structure as low and affordable to our local organizations as possible. It would be unjust of the Chamber to shoulder our membership with the added cost of pursuing the second branch of our mission. That is why we host a series of local events to help support our efforts to foster economic growth, increase revenue to the area through tourism, and to share with others the important history of our region.
Our directors and members serve on a variety of boards and committees, and are deeply involved with a number of local community initiatives. None of these commitments bring any direct revenue to the Chamber, but we see the value in collaborating with other local organizations, regardless of their membership status, to help further develop our communities.
Since my coming on board, the Chamber has worked very closely with the Greater Franklin Development Corporation to provide information and resources to those investors looking into our region as a potential location. We also sit on a number of committees and networks together, including the Franklin County Tourism Network. This relationship has proven to be an invaluable and natural one, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen this, and other, collaborative efforts.
By supporting our community, and not just our membership, our efforts help to ensure that our favorite brick and mortar establishments will remain in our neighborhoods offering services and paying taxes, that visitors will continue to choose to spend their time in Franklin County (thus inevitably spending their dollars on food, gas, lodging and retail) and that our communities will thrive in a rich economic environment. We feel like we’re on the cusp of something truly great in this county, and we want you to be a part of that.
We thank you for your consideration, and hope that you choose to attend your town meeting and speak in support of the Chamber. Your voice is the support we need to continue to expand our efforts regionally.