05/13/10 — Chamber leaders meet with volunteers

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Chamber leaders meet with volunteers

By Laura Collins
Published in News on May 13, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors got some questions answered Wednesday about their role in the chamber's new strategic plan.

Both executive director Steve Hicks and Chamber Board of Directors chairwoman Julie Daniels attended the Ambassadors' monthly meeting. The chamber approved a five-year plan Friday that is geared toward creating a more financially stable and effective chamber. Much of the plan identifies the chamber's need for more volunteers to accomplish its six initiatives. In the past, the Ambassadors have been the chamber's main group of volunteers, but the group wasn't mentioned in the new 50-page plan.

Ambassador Chair Sharon Thompson said in the past the Ambassadors have been mentioned in plans for the chamber, so there were concerns the function of the Ambassadors was changing or being eliminated. Hicks said that's not where the chamber is headed.

"We're not going to fix something that's not broken," Hicks said. "What we want to do is find ways to utilize other volunteers. That's not going to change (the Ambassadors) at all. If we've been guilty of anything, it's taking you for granted."

Mrs. Daniels said it's possible the chamber has not realized the depth of what the Ambassadors do, adding that the board would like the additional volunteers to help with some of the their responsibilities, including new member recruitment.

"We want to increase volunteers, not to eliminate anybody, but allow you to not get overwhelmed," she said.

Mrs. Thompson said there is a lot of training that has gone into being an Ambassador and knowing the chamber and its benefits thoroughly. She encouraged Hicks and Mrs. Daniels to make sure new volunteers who are brought in are trained and are able to answer any and all questions about the role of the chamber.

Mrs. Daniels said it's likely that in the coming weeks Hicks will meet with the head of each section of the Ambassors to learn more about their role.

Ambassador member Gretchen Reed said after the meeting that she's looking for better communication between the Ambassadors and the board members and the executive committee.

"I think it's very important for us to have a strong chamber. The better the communication we can have, the stronger the chamber is and the more attractive it is for a business to come here," she said. "I think there are PR issues that need to be addressed."

In the past, Ambassadors dealt mainly with the membership staff of the chamber. But in April, both staff members were laid off due to budget constraints and an effort to streamline duties. Hicks will be taking on the responsibility of membership and work more directly with the Ambassadors.