In just three days, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce added 206 new members, increasing its membership to 1,150 businesses.
More than 175 Chamber members made up seven recruitment teams, with a friendly competition to win the membership drive, said Meric Gambel, director of the Chamber’s business development. These teams called “folks that they know, that they do business with” to ask them to become Chamber members.
“The Blue Wave team dominated,” he said, bringing in more than 100 new members. Sue Schneider, general manager of Spartanburg Water, chaired the team. Other chairs included Doug Moyer, CEO, Mary Black Hospital; John Miller, CEO, Denny’s; Foster Chapman, president of Johnson Development Associates; Russ Weber, president of Integral Solutions; Steve Wunder, president of Duer Carolina Coil; and Charles Scales, president of GOS.
The event in mid-April, organized by Jimmy Cusano and Your Chamber Connection, was the first time The Spartanburg Chamber has held a membership drive over such a short period of time. Also, the Chamber now holds the state record for revenue earned through a membership event.
“This approach has left everybody energized,” Gamble said.
“The Chamber of Commerce is the business community in Spartanburg,” Cusano said, making membership important to area businesses.
Recruiting new members, however, means providing a return on their investment, Gambel said. “Gone are the days when people join just because it’s a good thing to do. Now it’s important to provide a return.”
Members gain generally through the Chamber’s economic development efforts as well as its entrepreneurial programs and its work to develop the Spartanburg workforce, he said.
Finding the talent needed to fill positions “is something that keeps employers up at night,” he said. The Chamber continually works to shrink the skills gap between people seeking work and employers seeking workers.
The Chamber, through the Spartanburg Economic Futures Group, aided in the creation of 1,100 new jobs and $1 billion in new investment last year. Over the past three years, more than $1 million a day in new investment has come from relocations and expansions in Spartanburg County.
Members also gain through educational, sales, leadership and networking events. They save through purchasing programs. Members saved more than $52,000 on office supplies, printing and furniture through a partnership purchasing program. They also saved more than $500,000 in health insurance premiums through the Chamber’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Plan. That plan equates to an average savings of $10,000 per member and more than $1,000 per employee.
“This event is a demonstration of the strength of the Chamber’s programming and the desire of companies from the Upstate and beyond to be a part of a dynamic business association,” said David Cordeau, president and CEO of the Spartanburg Chamber.