Thursday, 17 May 2018 19:07

Nobody Really Knows What We Do Here

By Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce | Business
The Chamber’s professional staff enjoys visiting members throughout the year such as he Saratoga National Historical Park’s visitor center. Photo by Richard Snyder. The Chamber’s professional staff enjoys visiting members throughout the year such as he Saratoga National Historical Park’s visitor center. Photo by Richard Snyder.

I started my career as a Chamber executive, in Massachusetts, in April of 1995.

I’ve since had the honor to work as a Chamber executive, in New York, starting at the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, in Glens Falls, in 2003, and since 2010 at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

Three chambers. Three communities. Twenty three years in this profession. 

One constant — nobody really knows what we do at a chamber of commerce to help our members and to lead
our communities.

Hopefully, everyone sees the ribbon cuttings where we celebrate a dream come true. 

You may also hear about our visible and vocal advocacy on a range of issues at the local, county, state and federal levels.

If you follow us on social media, you see we host tons of networking events and educational workshops.

We’re well known via our Healthy Saratoga movement for branding Saratoga County as one of the healthiest place to work.

And this time of year, we’re about to select 24 people to take part in the Leadership Saratoga program so they can become better leaders and volunteers.

But there is so much more that we do that no one sees…

Richie Snyder takes and shares photos and videos of members with members all the time because this content is so valuable for online promotions.

Sara Thornton calls members to help them build their own microsites and to make sure they are placing their events in our online community calendar.

When someone wants to know where they can volunteer to make a difference, Kathleen Fyfe talks to and connects them with a local nonprofit.

Local Veterans looking for local jobs contact Denise Romeo, and she becomes their friend, mentor and champion.

Joe Russell doesn’t just sell chamber memberships. He listens to those he talks with and often refers them first to our SCORE volunteers so they get free help with their startup.

Keith VanVeghten is already at work planning our October 4 B2B expo while also finding time to help the July 4 All American Celebration to secure the permit to host this incredible event.

Beyond managing Saratoga County’s tourism promotional campaign, Annamaria Bellantoni sets up our information booth on Broadway. This includes taking our dedicated summer staff on tours of new local venues.

Deb Zeman helps local businesses to get information about health and dental insurance options. 

Terri Tommell helps organizations that want to join the Chamber by setting up monthly payment plans to make it more affordable.

Whether you are a staff of one or you have lots of employees, our professional staff is an extension of your own staff. 

So my advice is don’t assume you know what the chamber of commerce can do. 

Because I can assure you that nearly every week if not every day, we make a connection or help a member to do something that even we didn’t know was possible.

That’s what keeps us going and makes this job so much fun!

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