Last week, Northfield Savings Bank hosted our annual Holiday Mixer. What a great event.

More than 70 Chamber members and guests came together at the Northfield Savings Bank Operations Center in Berlin for an evening of networking, refreshments and camaraderie. What a diverse gathering of local business leaders, meeting in a relaxed social setting, all looking to conduct that last bit of business before the years’ end.

Mixing and mingling with the group left me with a tremendous sense of appreciation for the efforts that our staff and volunteers dedicate to accomplishing The Chamber’s mission, which is to “Guide, inspire and promote the best interests of the businesses and professionals of the area, and to enhance the economic, cultural, educational and recreational opportunities of its citizens and visitors.”

As a volunteer, membership-based organization, The Chamber relies heavily on our members to provide us with the financial resources that allow us to work to improve our region’s and state’s economies. More than that, however, our members invest their time in making our efforts successful.

Our members serve on our committees and task forces, each aimed at specific goals and objectives. Our Events Committee, chaired by Kim Bolduc from Bolduc Metal Recycling, is responsible for organizing things like our Business After Hours mixers, the Annual Meeting, our Annual Raffle, our Golf Outing our Blood Drives and our monthly educational seminar series, Chamber $marts and ¢ents. They are planning some soon-to-be-announced major events that will be a focal point for 2019.

We recognize that our members’ investments in The Chamber are our primary source of income every year. As such, we have an obligation to ensure that those investments are being managed in a responsible manner. That task falls to our Finance Committee, chaired by our secretary/treasurer, Ed Larson from Larson Forestry & Legislative Consulting.

Denise Russo from Hickok & Boardman, Denis, Ricker & Brown chairs our Membership Committee. That committee helps to grow our membership. The committee also serves as our “Ambassadors” checking in with our members making sure that we are being responsive to their needs and concerns.

The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee develops the agenda that we present when representing the business community on the local, state and federal levels. Jon Skates from Casella Resource Solutions chairs that committee and leads us through the issue vetting process that culminates when our board of directors formally adopts our positions for the year.

Tourism is a major focus for the Chamber. Welcoming visitors and promoting our region at major tourism shows are all a part of our efforts to promote Central Vermont as a leading destination. This year, John Underwood, Innkeeper of the Inn at Montpelier, has also been leading our Tourism Committee through a complete re-write of our Visitors’ Guide. Our new brochure, which will be released and come to life on our website in January, has been a labor of love for everyone involved with the project.

As any landlord knows, maintaining one’s property is vitally important. Our Building Task Force, also chaired by Ed Larson, has overseen major improvements to our world headquarters, Beaulieu Place. After re-paving our parking lot last year, the task force undertook the renovation and leasing of 1,700 square feet of space and insulating our building this year.

In today’s business world, technology drives operational success. Our Technology Task Force has spent the year reviewing our internal needs and is looking to make improvements that will help streamline our operations. The task force is chaired by Kristin Hayes from Community National Bank who, among other things, is making sure that we get more visible and engaged with social media. Look for some great things in the cyberworld next year.

The board chair of the Chamber this year has been Joe Choquette from Downs Rachlin Martin. Overseeing the activities of these committees has been a challenge. Through all of it, however, Joe has managed to keep us focused on the strategic plan that we began in 2017. As we approach its third and final year, Joe is preparing to direct a new strategic planning session for us so that we can continue to deliver and expand on our accomplishments.

Managing some 75 or 80 volunteers is often likened to herding cats. Fortunately, we have a professional staff including Tonya Barnett and Carole Hass assisting the committees and all of our volunteers. I don’t think we would be able to open the door without their commitment and dedication.

If you are interested in helping to make a positive change in Central Vermont, give me a all at 802-229-5711 or drop an email to me at Bill@centralvt.com. I’ll be happy to show you how easy and rewarding volunteering at the Central Vermont Chamber can be.

William Moore is the president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

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