By Roxanne Washington, The Plain Dealer Sun News
Q: What does it take to run a chamber of commerce and how has the job changed over the years?
A: To run a chamber of commerce, it takes vision, leadership, flexibility and ability to work with all aspects of people. Having run a chamber of commerce for eight-and-a-half years and now currently running the Solon Chamber I feel one thing remains the same – keeping pulse of what the members want and doing what we can to service their needs is of the utmost importance.
The job has changed over the years and is continuing to move toward a more “regional” approach. The Solon Chamber embraces this and we are planning more events with multiple chambers to fulfill that need. To stay on the cutting-edge is also a priority and providing value to our membership as we continue to grow is vital.
Q: What benefits and services do members of a chamber of commerce receive?
A: We are excited to announce a new added benefit for our Solon Chamber members – www.shopsolonfirst.com. The Solon Chamber launched this easy to use, interactive website that makes it quick to search and explore the multitude of products and services available in the Solon community and surrounding area. It has really taken off with over 100 Solon Chamber member businesses on this site in just a few short months. Shoppers can save time and money on shopping, restaurants, services and more. The site has coupons, patrons can post reviews and owners can post photographs of the business to make it easy to identify the storefront and highlight products.
Other benefits include networking, events, referrals, group health insurance and Workers’ Compensation Group rating, Certificates of Origin, member-to-member discounts and hot deals, marketing and advertising opportunities, community support, committees, free listings on Website and Solon Connection Magazine and access to a wealth of Solon information i.e. demographics, maps, member roster of 500-plus members, industrial guide and more.
Q: What do you love about the area you promote?
A: We are proud to promote that Google named Solon as Ohio’s eCapital for 2013. Every year the online search giant recognizes the strongest online business community in each state. Solon leads Ohio’s digital way – its online business community connects local shops and restaurants with residents and visitors with websites such as the chambers’ www.shopsolonfirst.com.
Solon was rated number 1 Cleveland suburb by Cleveland Magazine. The city of Solon, the schools and Solon community are very welcoming and we are proud to promote and be an advocate for every aspect of the business community – industrial, professional, commercial, retail and home-based businesses.
Q: What is the funniest inquiry you have received?
A: We were gearing up for an international trip to China which was leaving the next day. A person called in and wanted to know if it was too late to go on the trip and also needed to know how to get a passport.
Q: What are the goals of the chamber for 2014 and beyond?
A: Increase membership retention and new members. Increase value and fit. Determine what members want. Utilize new communication methods. Engage Young Professionals. Provide measurable value for all Solon Chamber member segments. Regionalism.