Jason Camis
Chamber President
Guest Columnist
The last two weeks I’ve given you “Jason Camis 101” and “Chamber of Commerce 101.” While I know that many people are eager to hear concrete plans for the chamber, be it big or small, I’m honestly not ready for that yet. Because I like change and I know the Chamber has a lot of room to improve, it would be easy to jump right in and say we’re going to do this and that. But one thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my career, it’s not necessarily as important to start new things and make changes quickly as it is to make sure we make the right decisions and the right changes. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of ideas and the list gets bigger every day. It’s just more important that we implement what our businesses want and need than some random idea I come up with in the wee hours of the morning.
Rather than share all my ideas for new programs and services to benefit our members and the business community this week, I’m going to talk more about the characteristics that the Chamber will embody while I’m here. After meeting with businesses and community members, this is a list of characteristics that you can and should expect from YOUR chamber of commerce. We might never be perfect in any one of these areas, but I guarantee we will always try to improve. Here we go…
1. Responsive – One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that the chamber hasn’t always been the best at responding to our members, businesses in the community, or the general public. The bottom line is we are here to serve you.We might not always have the answer to your question. Sometimes we might not be able to find it for a few days. But we will respond to you as soon as we area able. The funny thing is our systems aren’t set up properly for us to do that quite yet, but it is something we are working on. Even just this week we’ve had phone issues which have limited my ability to take and return calls. That said, we’re working diligently to correct this. Additionally, I can be reached on my cell throughout the day. While I’d love to spend my time waiting in the office for business to come to me, it just doesn’t work that way. Thus, I encourage folks to set an appointment or give me a call before stopping by the office.
2. Embrace Technology – Building off the #1, the Chamber will be updating our systems, website, social media presence, etc. to provide better services for our business community. I believe we should be an example for small business for how technology can improve our customer experience and our internal operations.
3. Resourceful – Did you know there are dozens of resources in Johnson County to help small businesses? Resources exist for medium and large employers too. Yet few, if any, of our businesses in Gardner and Edgerton have ever tapped into them. My guess is businesses don’t know they exist. We’re going to change that. We’re going to make sure we are resourceful as a chamber of commerce as well, tapping into the wealth and expertise of other chambers and organizations like the SW Johnson County EDC or JCCC Small Business Development Center.
4. Inclusive – We serve two communities, Edgerton and Gardner. We serve businesses in both of those communities, at New Century Airport, and from around the region. Our goal is to build relationships with all of our stakeholders. We don’t live in or do business in a vacuum. Regardless of what community you call home, business doesn’t know any boundaries. I’ve never heard a business say, “We only want customers from X”. As a chamber our job is not to pick and choose winners, but to be an advocate and supporter for all the businesses we serve.
5. Transparent – Everyone knows the Chamber had some missteps in the past. And while I don’t want to downplay them, it’s not unusual and it happens with organizations all the time. Moving forward we’re going to be very open and honest about what we are doing, how we’re doing it and why. Everyone might not agree with a particular direction or decision, but the Chamber will always have the greater business community in mind.
I thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about the chamber and look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead. As always, contact me with any comments or feedback you have, because “together, we’re better.”