“The Work We Do Best”

When most folks think about the Chamber, they might first recall our building at 300 East Park Avenue, but we are much more than just a place for the business community to gather. The Chamber is a mindset. It’s a living, breathing network of people who share common interests and similar desires for our community. From our perspective as staff, the Chamber is a mechanism for making a difference. Every morning when we open the doors for business, we have an opportunity to help our members and improve outcomes for our community. Each day is different, but our Mission remains the same – be the catalyst for business and community growth.

That Mission statement is the first thing you see when you walk through our front door. It is a reminder for both our members and our team as to the work we are doing each day. That work happens in a variety of ways. In order to maximize our impact, we channel our efforts through three key priority areas – Growing Business, Advocating for Business and Bridging the Talent Gap. Although each of those respective areas has designated staff members assigned to carry out the day to day work, our efforts often become entangled in the best of ways.

Recently, our membership department began to work with our Ambassadors on a new member engagement initiative. Based on some great feedback from our “Red Coats”, staff helped to create a new concept that is focused on connecting businesses which are located near each other. The aim of this effort is to allow for companies to become better neighbors through the sharing of ideas and discussions about issues that pertain to their corner of our community. The pilot for this new initiative has been based in the Woodlane business park in Northwest Leon County.

If you aren’t familiar with the Woodlane area, it is a thriving business hub located just off Capital Circle Northwest. Companies like Orkin Pest Control, Miller’s Tree Service, Talquin Electric, B&T Fencing, Mathers Electric, Gutter Solutions, Astro Tours, Barineau Heating & Air and Woodlane Cabinetry are just a small sample of the companies that call the area home. In the past few months, our team has worked with these businesses and others to host a series of gatherings that have yielded both new connections and important information for those in attendance. It has also been a productive way for us to better understand our members and for our members to better know each other.

Through the course of these conversations, representatives from Woodlane businesses have identified a variety of issues that are affecting their ability to operate. Among those issues, the one item that everyone seems to agree on is the need for a traffic light on Capital Circle. Despite the high volume of trucks entering the highway in that area, there is no signal present to help improve safety and traffic flow. After hearing about this concern, our membership team asked how we might be able help the Woodlane businesses better advocate for this needed improvement.

In many conversations about our advocacy work, we share with members that we don’t always have the answers to their problem, but we usually know where to find it. In the case of the Woodlane businesses and their desire to see a traffic light installed, we turned to Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor. Commissioner Minor represents the Northwest portion of Leon County as the elected representative from District 3 which includes the Woodland business park. He also serves on the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency board which helps to coordinate such improvements with the Florida Department of Transportation.

This past week, Commissioner Minor was kind enough to volunteer some time to join us in a conversation with various Woodlane businesses. He and his Aide Jodi Wilkof spent over an hour talking with our members to better understand the need for a traffic signal on Capital Circle NW. As part of that meeting, there were also discussions on other issues that are impacting businesses in the area. Hosted by the good folks at Orkin Pest Control, we met over coffee with the Commissioner while having an engaging discussion about the great companies located at Woodlane and how local government can help them find answers to their questions.

There is nothing easy about getting a new traffic signal put in on a state highway, but like any challenge, it can only be solved by taking the first step. Because of our recent work with member businesses in Woodlane and the help of Commissioner Minor there may soon be answers to how this needed improvement can become a reality. This type of collaborative work is what we specialize at the Chamber.

Finding solutions is part of our culture. Every day members reach out to us with scenarios that they haven’t been able to sort through on their own. Sometimes the fix is as easy as connecting them with another member company who we know can help. There are also many examples of how we must navigate the channels of local government or some other organizational apparatus to find answers. No two issues are the same. We can’t promise that we can solve them all, but we always give it our best effort and that usually leads to some level or resolution. When we talk about driving value to members, it is this kind of problem solving that we like to point to.

When people think of the Chamber, we certainly want them to see us as a hub for the business community, but we also want to be known as problem solvers and trusted conveners. The concept of being a catalyst is based in the reality that every solution must start somewhere. We take great pride in being the place where important changes begin and thanks our members, volunteers and leadership, we continue to be the catalyst for business and community growth. For nearly a century, that has been the work we do best.

Jay Revell
Vice President