By Jacquie Koon
Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce
That pretty much describes the first 30ish days as Chamber president. The Chamber has had a busy start to 2014, and I’d like to share with you some of the excitement.
We had several meetings and workshops with our board members to reaffirm our commitment to the Chamber mission statement — “to promote a healthy business and tourism climate in order to protect the quality of life in the community.” In keeping with the mission statement, our board of directors set the following three goals for the year:
1. Maximize the tremendous strengths of the existing Chamber of Commerce Board Members: The board of directors encompasses an amazing group of individuals that represent a variety of industries, including retail, real estate, health care, finance, marinas, construction, law, marketing, media, museums and hospitality. They are not only dedicated to the businesses within the Chamber; they are also key participants in many of the activities on the island, such as meeting the new city manager, participating in the City Council town hall meetings, attending information meetings about the Marriott expansion and participating in quality causes such as the Souper Bowl on Feb. 2 and Wet Paint on Feb. 12 (both events designed to raise money directly for the scholarship program for Marco Island high school seniors). If you have not had a chance to meet a member of the Board of Directors, I encourage you to introduce yourself or invite one for a discussion. Although we actively promote the business community, we are also residents of the island — living here 12 months out of the year and dedicated to keeping Marco Island the paradise that we all love. We want to hear from businesses and residents in order for us to accurately and fairly represent the best interests of all.
2. Capitalize on the diverse membership of the Chamber to engage more businesses in active dialog about current topics and business challenges: The current membership of our Chamber is approximately 700 businesses, and represents over 90 percent of the businesses on Marco Island. We have active members with businesses that have been on the island for over 30 years, and have members that have new businesses started within the last six months. The collective knowledge, passion and expertise of the members represent Marco Island very well. A historical criticism of the Chamber has been “it’s always the same people — it’s just one big clique.” When Curt and I joined the business community in 2008, we were well received and welcomed not only by the Chamber but by many of the businesses on the island. Over the years, we have created strong relationships with many of the business and community organizations and are actively involved. I encourage every business owner to seek ways to be involved — whether the Chamber, various foundations or charity organizations — you will be welcomed! As a Chamber, we also hope to refine our existing Ambassadorship Program to engage more of our businesses in activities such as monthly networking opportunities. Our goal is to increase the level of involvement and spread the wealth of knowledge our members have to offer to each other and to the community.
3. Maintain our mission statement to actively represent and advocate Business Interests with City and County Government: All cities and communities have their challenges, and our unique paradise comes with unique challenges. As residents and business owners on the island, the chamber has a vested interest in serving its community. Over the last 30 days, we have been introduced to our new city manager, Roger Hernstadt, and we enthusiastically welcome him to our community. We support our county and city governmental officials. They are to be commended for their dedication to their roles, and we encourage new candidates for this year’s upcoming elections. We support the combined city and civic efforts to fund our annual firework celebration. We commit to stay engaged with governmental issues that may impact our members and to proactively educate and involve our member community as needed.
I led my installation speech with the words: “Brand yourself or be branded.” As the Board of Directors reviewed and agreed upon the above goals, we also defined how we wanted to be “branded”:
• We are learners.
• We have passion and enthusiasm.
• We pursue perfection.
• We strive to connect our membership.
• We negotiate when possible and strive to achieve consensus.
• We are flexible and adaptable to diverse ideas and opinion.
• We use our imagination to create unique and effective results.
• We communicate and spread the word about Chamber events.
The above attributes are our commitment to our Chamber members and to the Marco Island community. We are here to promote the positive aspects of the paradise that we all love.
Here’s to the success for all the business and residents of Marco Island in 2014. I look forward to sharing our activities throughout the year and encourage you to reach out to me with your ideas and thoughts about our community.