by Ryan S. Jessen on December 14th, 2011

The month of December provides us with valuable time to reflect on the past year and get things in order to start the New Year on the right foot. My reflections on my time as Chamber President leave me filled with pride and an overwhelming feeling of optimism. This year has been nothing less than a smashing success.

My pride and optimism begins as I look through the financials. Sadly, due to the loss of private and public funding, the Chamber has been operating with two-thirds (2/3) less yearly revenue since 2010. The Board of Directors has fought to not only keep the Chamber afloat but to increase its sustainability by increasing Chamber services and value. As I said at the Annual Chamber Dinner, the income and expenses were highly scrutinized and reorganized by myself and Chamber Treasurer, Dan Weidner. We can all be proud that the Chamber is now operating and thriving completely independent of any outside sources of income. In fact, the Chamber’s operating account has grown more than five (5) times its size since 2010. The good news is we have found a favorable grove, walking the line between increasing income and efficiently decreasing our expenses. Bottom-line, the Board of Directors have put this organization on track to make some big improvements and thrive for years to come.

In 2011, the Board of Directors worked extremely hard to increase the value of your membership; including an updated web site, newsletter and weekly events email blast. As well as, an updated Restaurant/Lodging guide, Apartment guide, continued daily business referrals and networking opportunities such as the new Networking Breakfast and the creation of the Young Adult Professionals group. We also revamped our Plymouth relocation packets, conducted a nicely attended Spaghetti dinner and created a community events calendar.

Our increased activity and pure Board determination has produced astounding results. In this economic climate the average Chamber will lose membership, or at the very best be lucky to see their membership flat line. Remarkably, as of December, the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce has added thirty-four (34) new members with a net increase of twenty-eight (28). This incredible number, more than three new members a month can be credited to the hard work of our office manager, Betty Glaub-Gibbs and our Ambassador’s Committee, ran by Anna Corbett. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, once again proving our Chamber is a wonderful value to the community.

Please take note, this refreshed Chamber approach will not cease in 2011. I have agreed to continue as Board President in 2012, with the full executive committee being finalized via election later this month. Furthermore, on the slate for early 2012 is the inaugural Chamber membership directory and a new member-to-member discount services membership program. Both items are sure to provide great benefit to each and every Chamber member.

Lastly, our analysis on increasing our income streams leaves us staring directly at membership fees. It has been many years since our last dues increase; in fact, our records show it has been more than twenty-five (25) years or more. As with any business, it becomes necessary to increase dues to match current and future expenses accrued to continue the progress of this wonderful community resource; with that said, the Board of Directors has approved a dues increase beginning in 2012. With your continued support this increase puts us in a favorable position to do many things, so I thank you in advance. (Dues based on full-time employees: 1-10 at $150, 11-20 at $300, 21-30 at $450, 31-40 at $600, 40+ at $750, and Non-profits/individuals at $75)

The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is proud to offer memberships that are both affordable and valuable. As well as, provide additional ways to efficiently and inexpensively advertise through multiple vehicles of media. At the end of the day, the increased rates are still more than half the average of all Northern Indiana Chambers.

Before I conclude this month’s message I would be remiss if I didn’t thank some of our excellent volunteers and friends of the Chamber. Thank you Dan Weidner for your continued support as acting Treasurer, your leadership and guidance have been greatly appreciated. Thank you Jan Garrison (outgoing Board Member) for nineteen (19) straight years of Board participation. Thank you Randy Burkholder, Susie Crump, Mary Raimondi, Howard Gibbs and Shelley Heiden for everything you do, your volunteerism should be the example in which everyone lives by.

In conclusion, we had a great year in 2011 and the best is yet to come. I will continue to lead this organization on the path of financial sustainability while increasing the value of your membership. I am truly amazed at the continued support this community provides to its valued resources. I will do everything in my power to make sure we give twice as much support as we get and hopefully share some great time and experiences on the way.

As always, feel free to call me any time.

Ryan
574-298-8363:C






by Ryan S. Jessen on November 1st, 2011

The month of October was certainly a busy month for us, here at the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. We finalized and disclosed our new Chamber Logo, designed by Heiden Creative. We also launched our newly refreshed web site, a completed task that was months in the making. Overall, the message was sent that the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is actively taking a role in a collective effort to re-brand ourselves and the community of Plymouth.

Firstly, our new logo was designed, not only to revitalize our own specific branding but to also keep in mind an overall marketing concept throughout the Plymouth Community. The Plymouth School Corporation was the first to reveal their refreshed branding. The Chamber followed suit with the same concept, albeit different color scheme. Our vision was simple, define ourselves as a specific brand but ultimately, keep a cohesive look to solidify a united Plymouth marketing concept. I believe this is the first step to really solidify a Plymouth brand and hope the City of Plymouth and other community entities see the value in a unified approach.

Lastly, the Board of Directors and the Chamber staff are happy to present the Chamber's rejuvenated web site (www.plychamber.org). Please take some time and review the wonderful services we can provide. You can also access many links including: the City of Plymouth, PIDCO, the Plymouth School Corporation, MCEDC, MCCF and finally the Marshall County United Way. Other value added functions include a community calendar, Chamber newsletter archives, various images in our photo gallery and finally, a President’s Blog. I recommend everyone in the community take a quick look, because, at the end of the day, the Chamber is here to work for you. Have you put the Chamber to work lately?

In conclusion, we finished a historic month of October in a marketing sense. Moving forward, the month of November will continue the rejuvenation with the revealing of our newly completed reference materials, including our reference and apartment guides, as well as our Chamber membership informational packets. Bottom-line the Chamber is in the “information business” and we want to offer our members and prospective members the best product available, which means a commitment to good, efficient marketing.

As always, please feel free to call me any time.

Sincerely,



Ryan S. Jessen
574-298-8363:C

by Ryan S. Jessen on October 11th, 2011

Day after day I get reminded of how great of a community we live in. We are so extremely lucky to have a great school system, a majestic downtown and all the other nuances that are Plymouth, Indiana. It stretches to the business community as well. I would encourage all businesses to reach out to the chamber to dive into additional information that could help grow your business.

For example, one wonderful business resource available to the community is Heart and Hands. The work Rebecca Griffy does is truly inspiring. We all know some of the projects their involved in like, The Plymouth Latino Festival but they can also help in your business needs. Maybe you have a product you would like to market to the Latino demographic, you would be amazed how much they can help in translating and overall culture education. I would encourage all interested businesses to reach out to Rebecca Griffy for more information.

Another great business resource was just hosted by Marshall County Economic Development Corporation last Tuesday. This business feasibility workshop, sponsored by North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, was an excellent session for not only start-up businesses but existing businesses as well.

The key topics included:

1. Evaluating whether you possess the characteristics most common to entrepreneurs that succeed.
2. Determining if your business idea makes good sense.
3. Discovering how to explore the market for your new business idea.
4. Learning how to estimate the basic financial feasibility of your business idea.
5. Making an informed decision about starting your business.

In review, here are two fine examples of the hidden gems of our great community. You would be amazed how many other organizations are out there ready to help, please call Betty for more information.

As always, feel free to call me anytime.

Ryan
574-298-8363:C




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