Friday, 17 February 2017 15:35

You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone

Written by Todd Shimkus, President, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
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Last year, the chamber of commerce in Manchester, Vermont, went out of business. It closed its doors and ceased to exist. I don’t know why it closed but I do know it is missed. I know this because two weeks ago, I was invited to Manchester to talk with community leaders about what we do here at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. Chris Morrow, of Northshire Bookstore, which has a store in Saratoga Springs and Manchester, asked me to talk about what their community is missing by not having a chamber. Nearly 40 people attended this forum. I shared with them what I love the most about the work we do. Simply stated, we convene the best and the brightest to solve local challenges and to take advantage of opportunities for the benefit of our members and the communities we serve. The examples I shared included: • Forming a Health and Wellness Council that created our #HealthySaratoga movement to ensure Saratoga County is one of the healthiest places to live. • Forming a Saratoga Tech Executives group that has hosted two #StartupSaratoga forums that attracted over 300 attendees. • Forming a Veterans Business Council that is focused on helping Veterans across Saratoga County to find jobs or to start a business. • Organizing Leadership Saratoga that this year will graduate our 30th class of local leaders who are trained and inspired to make a positive difference in our communities. • Partnering with Saratoga County to market our tourist destinations, hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions to leisure tourists. • Supporting efforts to organize new events that positively contribute to our quality of life and tourism economy, such as: the Saratoga Balloon and Craft Festival, the Saratoga Giant PumpkinFest, and the Saratoga International FlavorFeast. They were interested in learning about how we promote the many festivals here in Saratoga. They had questions about how we promote Saratoga as a destination for leisure tourism. They asked about how we work collaboratively with other groups that are also promoting our area. There’s a saying that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. That evening in Manchester, I could see how the chamber’s closure impacted them. They don’t have someone to lead their promotional efforts nor to facilitate the creation of new events. They don’t have someone thinking about new trends and opportunities to grow their community. Now someday they will. They have a team of people that has convened the best and the brightest. They are researching and talking about the opportunities and solutions. Manchester is a beautiful community with a lot of incredible amenities. I can’t wait to see them succeed. But as I drove back to Saratoga, I was more thankful than ever for the tremendous support the Chamber gets from the thousands that have joined our Chamber team. We have volunteer leaders, like David Collins, Matt Jones, Brian Straughter, Theresa Agresta, and Kevin Hedley, who serve on our 2017 Executive Board. We have hundreds of others that serve on our Board and our committees. Our professional staff has 104 years of combined experience working here for the benefit of our community. We are proud of what we have and what we’ve done. But we cannot take anything for granted. Our history of success comes from convening the best and the brightest to get things done. And we’re ready to do a lot more of that. Let’s go!
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