By Tracey S. Wheeler, IOM, President & CEO
For more than 45 years, I have had the opportunity to work for the Baytown Chamber of Commerce and have heard many times the question, “What is the Chamber going to do for me?” or the statement, “I don’t know why I joined the Chamber…I haven’t gotten anything out of it”. Chamber executives, like myself, go to sleep at night with that ringing in their ears. The fact is that the people asking that question or making that statement were probably promised some type of involvement opportunity that doesn’t exist or they have never shown up for any type of Chamber activity.
One of the things that the Baytown Chamber offers is fellowship and business development opportunities. Those involved are in the mainstream of economic and business activity. What business people really want is MORE BUSINESS. We are the folks in town who believe in free enterprise, aren’t we? We encourage Chamber members to conduct business with other Chamber members. While we can’t promise the moon in terms of potential business opportunities, we can invite business persons to take advantage of real opportunities by contact with other business persons in the community.
The Baytown Chamber of Commerce is a department or extension of every member’s business. The primary objective is to foster a strong business climate, but the Chamber is also a partner in making the Baytown community a better place to live.
The Chamber is the organization that addresses the problems of the community and pulls people together to address those issues. During a severe economic slowdown, the Chamber with the assistance of the city developed and implemented the Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation which today is extremely effective in bringing new companies to the Baytown area. The Baytown Crime Stoppers started as a Chamber effort as did the Historic group. The Baytown Chamber took the first, (and many subsequent), delegations to Austin to lobby for the Fred Hartman Bridge. The Chamber has been effective in lobbying for many transportation issues over the years. Other Chamber efforts help promote and keep businesses in the area through shared information, networking events and special programs. Still, other programs support the educational, cultural and recreational needs of the community.
Chamber successes are the result of the hard work of many dedicated volunteers and staff members. Without the volunteers, this organization could not function. The staff keeps the doors to the office open and performs the mechanics while the volunteers are the mainstay.
Over the years, we have seen a major change in the financial support of the Chamber. With the increase in national chains and the decrease in the locally owned businesses, the commitment to a local community organization is not as strong. The Chamber has been forced to look beyond membership investments for other income sources. The Chamber is not a part of the City as many believe, and we do not receive tax dollars to operate. Membership investments are an indication of the members’ faith in what the Chamber can accomplish for the economic well-being of the community.
If you are interested in community programs, better business climate, and want more people to know about your business or profession, then extend your ideas, talents and investment where the ACTION is – in the Baytown Chamber of Commerce.
Happy Holidays from your Baytown Chamber of Commerce!