By LOIS KINDLE
Like many businesses and nonprofit organizations, the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce is adapting to the current economic climate by thinking outside of the box.
Moving forward, it’s adapting to hard times by kicking off SouthShore Forward, a special promotion offering a free, 90-day chamber membership to ALL businesses in the South Shore area.
Between now and May 11, simply go to www.southshorechamberofcommerce.org and fill out its membership application. Where it asks for the membership level, just indicate SS Forward, and NO fee will be involved.
The completed application must then be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to 813-645-2099.
Current SouthShore Chamber members will receive three months added to their annual membership at no charge.
“This will give businesses a chance to ‘test drive’ the chamber and help breathe life back into the commerce of the community as a whole,” said Executive Director Melanie Davis. “Our focus is to pull the business community together and to promote good will and positivity.”
Davis said SouthShore Forward memberships offer the following:
• Frequent emails with helpful information for running and promoting your business.
• Promotion on social media as a SS Forward member.
• Participation in the chamber’s weekly virtual networking meetings.
• Other networking opportunities to your business moving forward.
“By offering this program, we hope to reach out to the entire South Shore business community and help promote all of our area businesses right now,” Davis said. “It’s especially important to help get relevant information out in a timely fashion to those that need it at this time.”
“We’re really excited to do something unique during this time to jump start the business community and the chamber,” added Carrie Elwell, chamber board member and treasurer. “Our board believes there is incredible opportunity as we emerge from this crisis.
Elwell said that by working together as a community moving forward, the chamber wants to ensure its members are poised to adapt and prosper.
Of course, the chamber hopes when the 90-day promotion expires, many of those signing up will see the value in becoming a regular member and join as such. If successful, this would certainly give the chamber a much-needed boost.
“The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce financially survives through member dues, monthly networking gatherings and major community fundraising events,” Davis said. “Since the economy has been drastically [impacted] by the pandemic, it has significantly affected us and our members, as well.”
“As a board, we made the decision not to call on members owing money at this time,” she continued. “One of our large annual fundraisers, Pigs in the Parking Lot, scheduled for May, has already been cancelled due to social distancing requirements. Likewise, our luncheons in March, April and May were cancelled, and we are just uncertain of what anything further than that looks like.”
“Even the annual Ruskin Seafood and Arts Festival, our largest money maker, is in question at this time because advanced funding is needed to market the event, secure vendors and entertainment, and set up equipment rentals,” Davis said.
Another big move
“To ensure the chamber stays open and to support our membership, we have made the decision to function temporarily as an ALL-VOLUNTEER organization,” Davis said. “Our staff members, directors and ambassadors are all on board and ready to step up in any capacity to see that this is done well. During this critical time, as we move forward, this restructuring will be re-evaluated every two weeks or so.
Davis will continue to lead the chamber as executive director as a volunteer. She reported being offered an opportunity to continue to earn a paycheck by taking a role with the Enterprising Latinas as its partnerships and digital access coordinator.
“The Enterprising Latinas are fully supportive of my continued commitment to the chamber,” Davis said. “And our board is happy I’ll still be able to support my family through this restructuring,” Davis said.
“The work of the chamber is one we value and will continue to support as it finds its way through this landscape,” said Liz Gutierrez, founder and CEO of the Enterprising Latinas. “We’re thrilled to have Melanie join us and for her to be able to continue as chamber leader.”
Davis said she’ll update the community on any new developments going forward.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.