January 28, 2013 at 01:16pm
The Chamber's Annual Meeting took place on a snowy January 16 at the Lord Jeffery Inn. The 90 or so participants were on hand to see the keynote speaker, Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess speak about his company's plans for a resort casino development in Palmer.
And while the Chamber had quite a bit of coverage (here and here and here) for Mr. Etess' talk, there was important Chamber business taking place, as well. We were happy to welcome G. Christopher Blauvelt, COO and CFO of Innovara in Hadley; Julie Marcus, director of marketing at New England Environmental, Amherst; Youssef Fadel, independant contractor at New England Promotional Marketing in Wilbraham; and John Kokoski, owner of Mapleline Farm in Hadley to the Chamber's Board of Directors. We were also happy to welcome the formal installation of Larry Archey as the Chamber's Board President.
Larry Archey is the Director of Facilities and Grounds at Hampshire College where he has worked for 23 years. In addition to facilities management, Larry has represented the College in a number of renovation and new construction projects, land use initiatives, and Town and government relations. In recent years, he was a member of the Town of Amherst Master Plan and Fire Station Review Committees.
I'm looking forward to working with Larry over the next year. He brings smart leadership and a long relationship with many in town government. He has a reputation for working well with many different folks and getting things done.
Below, please find a text of Larry's speech to the Chamber's membership at the Annual Meeting.
I am happy to be here today as I begin my term as President of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce – for a second time – what was I thinking? I’ve received congratulatory and “good Luck” calls from many of you. You know, the ones that sound something like this: Good Luck! GOOOD luck, and good luck. In all seriousness, thank you for your good wishes and please know there’s not a better business organization in the valley than the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and I am proud to be your President.
I wish to first thank Kathryn Grandonico for her leadership this past year. She was at the helm of a number of important initiatives and I hope to be able to build upon the good work she has started.
I am also excited and eager to work closely with Vice President, Lyne Kendal, Tony, executive director extraordinaire, Joan and Tammy at the Chamber office, and the many talented and committed professionals that make up our Board of Directors. They are leaders from a wide range of professions such as retail,law, entertainment, social services, farming, and not-for-profit industries. They represent small, mid-size and large organizations with offices located in the Amherst and Hadley area. Our Board is truly a reflection of the make-up of the Chamber and its commitment to represent all our member businesses.
Now, if I was a betting man, I would say the odds are probably somewhere around 10:1 that you are not here to listen to me. Rather, you’re here to listen to the message from our keynote speaker Mr Etess. Yet, I want to ask that you indulge me for just a brief moment while I share with you some key initiatives the Chamber will be focused on this year.
If I were to summarize our goals for the coming year into a theme, it might be best described as “strengthening existing partnerships and creating new ones”. And we look to accomplish this through the following objectives:
First, a primary objective will be to strengthen our partnerships with our current members. We will strive to evolve into a more high touch, personal organization by increasing our contacts and communications with individual members, ensuring them we are responding to their needs, reminding them of the many services and educational opportunities we provide, and to encourage their participation within the organization. After all, by definition, “a partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.”
Second, we will develop strategies to increase our membership numbers. This is essential if we are to maintain the financial resources needed to increase our effectiveness as an organization and to provide the level of services our members have grown to expect from a first class chamber of commerce.
Third, we will look to strengthen an already solid relationship with town and state government. Through pro-active discussions and joint strategic initiatives, together, we will respond to the challenges that will surely arise and take advantage of the business opportunities upon which an education and hospitality dependent economy relies.
Fourth, we are excited about the opportunity to build upon what has already begun to be a valuable partnership with the Business Improvement District. We are confident, that by working together, we will enhance the attractiveness, vibrancy and economic success of the downtown business district.
Finally, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce is eager to participate in the ongoing development of a regional chamber of commerce. We believe that by working together on regional based initiatives such as tourism and economic development, we will help to ensure economic success for our members as well as businesses throughout the region.
While our work plan for the coming year may appear ambitious, I am confident in the ability of our team to execute it successfully. Under the leadership of our Executive Director, Tony Maroulis, and the guidance of a committed Board of Directors, I look forward to strengthening the valued partnerships we have with many of you and creating new partnerships with others.
Thank you and I wish you the very best in the coming year.