With a New Year upon us, I am excited for the many opportunities 2017 will bring to continue to move our business community forward. I am equally proud to look back on 2016 and reflect on the tremendous progress and accomplishments achieved by your Chamber. Both the Chamber’s future efforts and our past accomplishments, however, would not be possible without incredible support of our members.
I want to thank all our members for their investment in the Chamber. Your support through membership not only provides your business with unique benefits but also allows the Chamber to accomplish its mission of enhancing our business climate through our advocacy efforts. Here is a look at the past year and the opportunities that lie ahead:
2016 was the first full year of implementing the Chamber’s new strategic plan. New committees and task forces around the focus areas of Economic Development, Education and Workforce Development, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Membership were launched. In 2017 the Chamber will continue to build on this progress and has several major initiatives tied to these efforts that we plan to launch soon.
Programs and Events
For the second straight year, member engagement at Chamber events and programs increased. Total attendance across all events was 5600 in 2016, up from 4300 in 2015. These results were achieved while eliminating some events and focusing on quality over quantity. The Chamber’s annual dinner sold out for the 2nd year in a row and breakfast forums, luncheons, and political debates all achieved strong attendance. Looking ahead, the Chamber continues to develop new and innovative programming based on member feedback.
The Chamber’s first full legislative session with our Government Relations Consultant, Gina Powers of Rath, Young, and Pignatelli, resulted in great progress on our advocacy efforts. The Chamber was the leading business voice in establishing new statewide ridesharing regulations, a key step to keeping ridesharing services in New Hampshire. The Chamber also successfully lobbied in support of Medicaid expansion and several significant business tax measures, and in opposition to legislation impacting the state’s ability to site new energy infrastructure that will help lower energy costs.
Educator Leadership Summit
As part of the Chamber’s education and workforce development goal, the educator leadership program was relaunched as a single day summit to help connect local educators with information on workforce trends they can bring back to the classroom. The inaugural summit was a huge success with more than 220 Manchester teachers participating in sessions and touring 18 Chamber member businesses. In 2017 we plan to host this program again and expand its reach even further.
Leadership Greater Manchester
Entering its 30th year, Leadership Greater Manchester is stronger than ever. Interest and applications to participate in this leadership development program continue to be strong each spring and the LGM Steering Committee under the leadership of Chair Kim Roy and Project Manager Tammy Boucher continue to produce outstanding programming for our participants. Looking ahead, the Chamber is considering how we can expand our professional development offerings to meet demand and interest from members.
Strengthening the Chamber
As an institution of our community that has been in existence for more than 100 years, the Chamber’s Board of Directors and staff take their role as stewards of the Chamber seriously. I am pleased to report that thanks to the hard work of our staff and support of our Board of Directors, the Chamber continued the positive trend of the last two years of strengthening its financial position and created a new Board Reserve Fund. This fund will provide the Board the flexibility to invest in strategic initiatives or opportunities that may arise and can advance the Chamber’s mission.
My thanks again to all members and community partners for their incredible support in 2016. We here at the Chamber are looking forward to another great year in 2017 and welcome your feedback and engagement in the New Year.