Promoting business success, the Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce is the top resource for companies seeking opportunities to grow and promote their businesses and services. Chamber membership provides immediate benefits through a host of opportunities for networking, advertising and education.
“Benefits begin from the moment a member makes the important decision to join the Chamber,” said Carol Smith, past Chamber President & CEO. “They receive a full packet filled with benefits information, special offers and discounts that new members can use. There’s advertising opportunities on local radio stations, a coupon for the small business breakfast that’s held on the second Thursday of the month, and new members are highlighted in The Voice, our monthly newsletter.”
With approximately 550 members, networking with like-minded businesses and individuals is one of the most important things that members can do. In fact, it’s the No. 1 benefit of membership. New members can take advantage of a special day set aside just for them in June too, as participants in the annual New Members Showcase.
“They set up tables for displaying brochures and pertinent information about their companies and they meet all of the other new members,” Smith said. “Everyone gets a chance to speak to the group about their business, sharing details about their products and services.”
Filled with fun, and the celebration of friends and Chamber leadership, the Gala is one of the Chamber’s most widely attended events.
“We usually have up around 350 guests,” Smith said. “It’s a high point in the year, the time when the gavel is passed to the new chairman. All of the past chairs are invited, and it’s held in the ballroom at Sam Houston State University. We have a wonderful dinner and fabulous live and silent auctions.”
Ribbon cuttings are another way for members to promote their businesses. Chamber staff rolls out the red carpet, and news of each event is featured prominently on the Chamber’s website and Facebook page, providing advertising to a large audience.
“We come to the business and conduct a small ceremony,” Smith said. “It’s very uplifting to welcome new members this way.”
And every month, the ever-popular Business After Hours is the perfect occasion to rub elbows, get acquainted and learn about new businesses and Chamber events.
“It’s all about getting connected and learning about what’s going on in the community and other businesses,” Smith said. “It’s sponsored by a single company; sponsorship opportunities are available at most of our events. It’s one more way the Chamber helps businesses build recognition for their companies.”
Deeply vested in community development, the Chamber reaches into legislative and educational affairs, too by sponsoring the Huntsville Leadership Institute (HLI). About 20 community members are screened and selected for HLI each year, and they participate in a nine-month program that trains them in leadership and civic responsibility.
“HLI also focuses on community awareness, networking and relationships,” said Chamber Events Manager Laura Green.
Supporting college students and educational attainment, the Chamber annually awards the Mary Frances Park Memorial Scholarship. Its value is $1,500.
“It’s awarded to a high school senior who will attend Sam Houston State University,” said Chamber Office Manager Shannon Higbie. “The board of directors screens the applications – we usually have about 15 students who apply – and choose the recipient. The money can be used toward college expenses, such as tuition or books and supplies.” n
By Cathy Cuthbertson