By Chamber President Peter Tomlinson
This article appears in the current issue of Island Business magazine
As your new President I share a vision with Steven Holbrook, the Chamber’s Chief Executive. We believe that first and foremost the Chamber should be a membership organisation. I think you will all see going forward that we are both intent in putting our members front and centre in everything we do.
We need to ensure that we are directly relevant to all our members, from large organisations to one-man bands, from start-ups to established businesses.
We need to be providing the support and services that businesses need, so that the Chamber is understood to be a key member of their team and a valuable resource.
Partly, this is down to better publicity about what we already do. There are many Chamber benefits that are little known about or are misunderstood by members.
To pick one example, the Chamber Legal Advice line is an incredible resource, offering invaluable and timely professional advice at the end of the phone, totally free of charge for Chamber members.
Very few members seem to be aware of that – but even fewer are aware that there is also unlimited access to a Chamber HR advice line, unlimited access to a Health & Safety advice line and the small matter of £1 million of legal expenses insurance including employment indemnity insurance! These are very valuable benefits from Chamber membership.
Some Chamber initiatives really are becoming well understood. The annual Business Expo event has been adapted over a number of years in response to participant feedback, and to reflect changing business needs, and it was great to see September’s Expo had more businesses exhibiting than ever before. In fact some businesses were unable to book a stand, as we were already full to capacity and sold out!
The event also achieved the highest ever attendance and generated a real buzz throughout the day. The overwhelming feedback I received was that it generated real business opportunities for exhibitors and attendees – and you can’t have a higher accolade for an event of that type.
Many other things have been happening. For example, we have overhauled the business loans scheme from the IW Lottery, making interest free loans more accessible for a wider range of Member businesses, and better integrating them with the Chamber’s Business Mentor support and Start-up business courses where relevant. We are keen to hear from more members about how we can help support investment in their business through this scheme, to make a real difference and create jobs on the Island.
It is great that on the back of some of these initiatives, we have welcomed over 100 brand new members to the Chamber family in the last year.
But, good though these things are, we still want to do more for our members. Steven has put together a superb plan for offering top class training, great speakers, different networking events, more business support, relaunch of the Chamber Mini MBA, and lots more. It is a thoroughly impressive list and there will definitely be stuff that is directly relevant to your business.
We also want to develop better channels for communication, so it is easier for members to give feedback and discuss issues and opportunities with the Chamber so that we can continue to evolve in the way that is right for our membership.
There is so much going on in the Chamber and we need your help to get the message out there, both to existing members who don’t currently engage much with the Chamber, and with other Island businesses who are not currently Chamber members. The broader our membership base, the more we can deliver.