“Why?” You may get this question in a variety of settings, from your children at home to your employees at work. The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce board and staff are getting this question a lot lately. For good reason. The chamber is making changes. I recently saw a quote (author unknown) that said, “Great things never came from comfort zones.” This statement is an important guide for the chamber. Whether we like it or not, the business world is changing. Baby Boomers are retiring and a huge group of young people are joining the workforce. More people are shopping online. Communication is more and more digital. Right or wrong, good or bad, this is the world we live in today, and as time goes by, technology will continue to make a significant impact on the way people do business.
So what does this mean for your local chamber?! Thankfully, a couple of years ago, the national Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) began discussing changes in the business climate that would impact chambers. From these discussions, they developed what they call the “Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025.” The Horizon Initiative identified eight influences that will shape chambers over the next decade. Those influence categories are:
1. Nature of Belonging & Gathering -- This influence asks chambers to identify who engages with the organization and how they engage.
2. Communications & Technology -- This influence asks how chambers gather feedback and how they meet the expectations of members for complete connectivity.
3. Scarcity & Abundance -- This influence reminds us that swings in supply and demand happen more quickly than they have in the past; therefore, chambers need to be nimble problem solvers.
4. Global Impact -- This influence identified that exports will drive business growth; therefore, chambers need to consider how they help small-medium companies connect to global opportunities.
5. Population Shift -- This influence identified that chambers need to consider the mindset of different cultures and generations; for example, millennials bring expectations of diversity and inclusivity.
6. Political & Social Fragmentation -- This influence identified that splintering in politics is everywhere (federal, state and local); therefore, chambers need to stay in the “sane center.”
7. Resource Alignment -- This influence asks chamber to consider how their members support the chamber and how members will want to see more progress than engagement.
8. Catalytic Leadership -- This influence identified that chambers will have to catalyze change, not just cope with it.
When I first read this report from ACCE, I was overwhelmed by the things we need to consider to ensure our chamber is relevant in 2025 and beyond. However, as I’ve been the executive director of the chamber for two years now, these influence categories make a lot of sense and I’ve already been considering changes that fall into these categories. But, there is more to consider and certainly more to do.
The chamber board will be talking about these influences during the coming months, and -- at our board retreat later this year -- we will develop our strategic plan around these topics. Therefore, as you hear about the different things the chamber is working on or changing, you now know “why.” In future columns, I will share more detail about each of these influences and some ideas for what that means for the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce. If you have questions, please reach out to me at (803) 432-2525 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, for more information about the Horizon Initiative, go to https://secure.acce.org/main/horizon-initiative-chambers-2025/.