Just what is a chamber?

I hope you read my article on Jan. 27 where I shared the long standing debate in the Chamber world about defining our organizations as events-driven organizations. The focus on “commerce” in our name leads us to be a Chamber of “events” as we strive to provide programming that makes our members stronger and engages them in the community.

And at the end of the day by providing “events,” we make “commerce” happen. Businesses and organizations learn about each other’s services so that one day, hopefully in the very near future, they will utilize one another. Members contribute their time and talents on behalf of the chamber by manning events, welcoming new members, organizing special activities — again, each of these events makes commerce happen.

Let me provide some additional examples of events that lead to commerce and connections among our members:

On Jan. 31 in the middle of snow and ice we held one of most successful Chamber 101 orientations. Chamber 101 is a fun orientation to the MOV Chamber for new members and new employees/contacts in existing members. Attendees spend an hour with our Chamber Champions for an informative and interactive session in which we orient members to all the benefits of the Chamber. This is a perfect opportunity to get a quick snapshot of all the Chamber has to offer. In fact, we had a business who was interested in joining and we invited them to attend Chamber 101 — it was a win/win!

As Chamber 101 was wrapping up that day, so many members were anxious to give business cards to other attendees — it was like speed networking as folks were racing around the room to meet and share resources! The perfect example of an event that makes commerce happen!

On Thursday we held our first Field Trip for 2019 to tour fellow Chamber member businesses. What a fun group and opportunity for 20 members to get a behind-the-scenes tour at WTAP, our first Field Trip host for 2019! We learned about the changes at WTAP over the past few years and the addition of their CBS and FOX affiliates. One of the most interesting portions of the visit for those that have never had the experience was to hang out in the control room and see how a live location shot gets incorporated into the show and the B-roll video that shows while the anchor is talking. Then over to the studio to watch the remainder of the 6pm newscast directly in the studio. Meteorologist Kirk Greenfield stood right beside us in front of the green screen delivering the weather forecast — we were like a bunch of kids.

Attendees had the chance to ask General Manager Ken Long question upon question about the news station — we laughed about the inevitable bloopers that happen with live TV and many shared their favorite moments about WTAP. Ken and his team are very proud about the WTAP tagline of “This is Home” as they focus on what makes WTAP unique — hometown news.

Our next big event is on Tuesday when we will take a group of Chamber members to Charleston for MOV Chamber Day at the Capital. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. we will host a drop-in lunch in the Governor’s Cabinet & Conference Room for our area’s delegates and senators, plus other key state leaders.

Any member of the MOV Chamber who would like to travel to Charleston for the event is invited to do so. Members can plan to spend some time in the reserved conference room as our legislators will stop by in between committee meetings and session to join us for lunch. Chamber members are encouraged to bring handouts and be prepared to highlight concerns and successes in relation to recent legislative actions. Our legislators appreciate this support and feedback as they work diligently on behalf of their constituents. Having a good working relationship with your elected officials truly benefits both parties.

We are also inviting other key stakeholders to join us for lunch, such as Governor Jim Justice, Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, Secretary of State Mac Warner, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Mike Hall, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ann Urling, the Governor’s Legislative Director Bob Ashley, Cabinet Secretary of Commerce Ed Gaunch, Development Director Michael Graney, Cabinet Secretary of Health & Human Services Bill Crouch, Cabinet Secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety Jeff Sandy, Cabinet Secretary of Transportation Tom Smith, State Auditor JB McCuskey, representatives for Senator Capito, Senator Manchin and Congressman McKinley, and Steve Roberts and WV Chamber representatives

There is no cost for Chamber members to attend. Lunch is complimentary, and has been sponsored by our friends at First Energy. Travel to and from Charleston is the responsibility of the Chamber member, although several of us will ride together in a rented 15-passenger van (I think we have one seat available if you want to go with us. Let us know first thing Monday morning if so!)

Ribbon cuttings, Lunch & Learns, Business After Hours, Sam’s Club Breakfast, and committee meetings will round out the activities for the remainder of the first quarter of 2019, followed by several special events staggered each quarter. Stay tuned for more updates!