Rocky Fork Enterprise

Chamber strives for business growth in new year

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Finding ways to make life better for Gahanna businesses and the community will be a theme this year for the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce.

During the chamber's Jan. 13 annual meeting and installation luncheon, chairman Ron Wolfinger said, "Proven ways to grow your business" will be the 2011 theme.

"We'll strive hard to work together," he said. "We want to continue that theme."

Like budget woes with Gahanna's city and schools, the chamber's financials showed it spending more revenue than it generated in 2010.

The Gahanna chamber brought in $152,504 and spent $156,851 for a loss of $4,347. Nonetheless, the chamber's end of year balance showed $9,877 along with a CD valued at $34,108.

"We're still in good shape and moving forward," Wolfinger said.

The 2010 Taste of Gahanna, the chamber's signature event, showed an increase in attendance from 632 in 2009 to 682 in 2010. Taste of Gahanna allows local businesses to showcase their food and services, with proceeds earmarked to provide educational programming for chamber members.

The 14th annual Taste of Gahanna will be on Oct. 13, while the 22nd annual chamber golf outing is set for June 27 at the Jefferson Country Club.

Wolfinger reported chamber membership dipped slightly from 437 in 2009 to 432 in 2010. He said one chamber goal this year is to increase member enrollment by 5-percent.

Other 2011 goals include providing more tangible benefits to members and implementing an online dues payment option.

Wolfinger said the chamber is also "retooling" its website to enhance communication through advertising exposure.

Other goals include more involvement at chamber events, promotion of member-to-member support and continued relationships with community leaders.

During the annual meeting, the board of directors was installed by Gahanna council president David Samuel. The 2011 directors include Rick Conover, of Aflac; Leah Evans, Gahanna Planning & Development; Karen Eylon, Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau; Nicole Green, PNC Bank; Paul Hall, Mastery Marketing Group; Bill Plesich, Renier Construction and David Pydlek, Friends Business Source.

Several Chamber awards were also presented including: Large Business, Jerry Guy, CEO of KEMA Financial Credit Union; Small Business, Ron Smith of SOH Productions, and Referral Program Award, Charlie Collins of Collins Financial Services. Chamber president Leslee Blake also honored Becky Whittington, chamber office administrator, who celebrated her 10th anniversary with the chamber on Jan. 12. "She's my other significant other," Blake said. "Becky is a remarkable person. She gives above and beyond as a staff person. She's bookkeeper, our customer service liaison and helps the board through thick and thin."

The annual meeting also featured keynote speaker Linda Brincks, president of Laurus Leadership Development.

The theme of her talk was "Out of the Starting Block: Three Areas to Win the Race in 2011" about leadership principles and strategies.

Future Chamber events include a Meet & Greet from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27 about Speed Networking at The Worthington, 1201 Riva Ridge Court. A Feb. 10 membership lunch will be held beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Gahanna Golf Course Clubhouse.

The topic will be "Identifying Ways to Manage Costs & Improve Cash Flow."

For more information, visit www.GahannaAreaChamber.com.

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