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Opinion: Preparing for the future with Tahoe Chamber

B Gorman
TAHOE CHAMBER
Tribune Opinion Columnist

For many, the days and even weeks leading up to the holidays, and into the New Year are filled with festivities and family gatherings. For business operators and their hard-working teams this time period was filled with preparing for, and ultimately serving the many guests who visited our destination over the holidays. Congratulations to all for graciously hosting more visitors than our community has seen for over a decade! For the chamber team this time period has been filled with preparing budgets and business plans.

The process commenced last autumn when we asked the community and the membership to take our annual survey to inform the planning process. Here are just a few of the key takeaways from that survey:

28 percent of the respondents stated that labor force issues were their biggest challenge compared to 12 percent in 2013.

Only 11 percent felt the economy was their biggest challenge compared to 35 percent in 2013.

43 percent said they counted on Tahoe Chamber to represent their business to governmental entities versus only 16 percent in 2013; 70 percent of respondents stated they wanted Tahoe Chamber to be involved in this process.

63 percent indicated they were planning on expanding their business within the next two years while 51 percent of respondents indicated they would be expanding their workforce within that same time period.

There were several other components of the planning process including the board and staff being asked to read the book “Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. If you haven’t yet discovered this book I highly suggest you add it to your audible listening list. The second reading assignment for all was a document prepared by the Association of Chamber of Commerce executives that seeks to illustrate trends that are highly likely to impact business and chambers in the next 10 years. Trends such as population shifts, resource alignment, the nature of belonging and gathering, scarcity and abundance, and political and social fragmentation are explored in the document. After finishing their reading assignments board members completed a detailed survey. The nature of belonging and gathering as well as political and social fragmentation had clearly resonated, which led to a lengthy retreat discussion. As a result there is an ongoing commitment to ensuring the chamber pay close attention to the value of membership, especially for younger business leaders and owners.

And finally the consulting firm conducted interviews with a variety of community members. Here three key issues were repeatedly mentioned as barriers to business and community prosperity. These were workforce, seasonality and the regulatory environment. This group and the board itself also stated that they saw a need for board members to be more visible within the community.

The research and retreat discussions have now been consolidated into a 2016-18 strategic plan to be reviewed and approved by the board at its Jan. 21 meeting. We have simplified our existing five core competencies down to a more streamlined version that focuses on the economy, leadership and governance, which each contribute to community. Those who are experiencing the workforce crunch will welcome the news that the chamber is partnering with the Tahoe Prosperity Center to complete a workforce initiative in 2016. Also new will be a restaurant industry group to develop strategies for their benefit in the coming months. Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners will be delighted to see our coaching programs strengthened with a wide selection of topic specific workshops added to the 2016 menu. The Go Local Campaign will return in 2016 due to its recent 2015 success as will the Business EXPO (April 1), Sample the Sierra (Sept. 17) and the Blue Ribbon Awards (Nov. 10). There will be several task forces formed to research bold new concepts for 2017 and 2018, so be sure to let me or a board member know if you wish to dive into the deep end with us.

Tahoe Chamber is bi-state organization with 650 members and a 21 member board of directors. For more information on our events, entrepreneurship programs and services or to get involved with a committee visit http://www.tahoechamber.org.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous New Year and let us each continue to welcome our guests graciously into our home over the coming winter months!

“B” Gorman, J.D., A.C.E. is the president/CEO of the Tahoe Chamber.


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