“Can we count on you to move this organization to the next level?” Chairman of the Board Steve Robinson, Cleveland Plywood Co., asked in January 2013 at the 87th annual meeting of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. Then he issued the challenge: “We plan to increase our membership to 1,000 by year’s end.”
And with the enthusiastic help of nearly 14 chairmen, 81 team captains and 317 volunteers on Oct. 1-3, the Chamber surpassed that ambitious goal and now boasts more than 1,200 members.
“I’m still coming down off Cloud Nine after last week’s membership event,” Gary Farlow, Chamber president and CEO, said. “By working with Jimmy Cusano and Your Chamber Connection (YCC), and through the competitive leadership of our event chairs, team captains and 317 volunteers who understand our mission and support our programs, we are now number one in Tennessee and third in the country in YCC membership-event results!”
The theme for the October event was “Chamber World Series: Batting a 1,000.”
“The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber set a goal that would make most chambers blush—300 new members in hopes of being a thousand-member Chamber following this membership event,” the YCC staff noted. “But by early morning on day two, they shattered their goal and continued to rise.”
By the conclusion of the event Thursday afternoon, the Chamber had an impressive 558 new members—nearly double their original goal.
Mr. Farlow added, “Visitors who dropped by the Chamber last week probably thought we had lost our minds. Jimmy is a high-energy Italian who trained the volunteers who were here to make calls with ‘hands up’ commands, high fives, passionate explanations about the role of the Chamber in the community, and reminders that ‘it’s not about me—it’s about US.’ ”
The Chamber’s conference center brimmed with enthusiastic volunteers on their personal cell phones, making calls, wearing smiles, and encouraging local businesses, regional operations and vendors to join the ranks of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber.
“The energized room was abuzz with dozens of callers telling the Chamber story,” noted Chamber Membership Development Vice President Kevin Moore, AXA Advisors LLC. “Every successful sale was announced with ringing of cowbells—a sound we heard often as the teams worked against the clock and against each other. Competition was in full swing with bragging rights and a stronger chamber the only prizes to claim.”
The Chamber story included reminders that the work of the Chamber encompasses efforts that resulted in $2.6 billion in economic development in the past five years, 1,600 new jobs and 4,000 jobs retained. Efforts by the Chamber’s Convention & Visitors Bureau resulted in a number-one ranking in tourism growth last year for Bradley County out of the 95 Tennessee counties.
In addition, volunteers learned that the Chamber’s education programs help to improve the community’s workforce, particularly the more than 1,100 students enrolled as Tennessee Scholars and the 300-plus students who participate in Job Shadowing each fall.
“Anyone you do business with who benefits from the economic, community and business development advanced by this Chamber of Commerce should be a member,” Mr. Cusano told the volunteers. “When others hear about everything the Chamber does, all of a sudden you have a great deal of enthusiasm for the Chamber and a great deal of support.”
The Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization. For more information about membership, call the offices at 423 472-6587.