Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development leaders want to give members every advantage to being a Chamber member.
Leaders have established a goal to meet with every Chamber business member to discover whether there is anything they can do to deliver value for their membership.
Marty Steinert will serve as 2015 Great Bend Chamber Ambassador Club president. He is taking the reins from Julie Smith, 2014 Ambassador Club president. Steinert credits Smith for emphasizing the goal of continuing to grow Great Bend and Barton County.
“She wanted to continue to grow Great Bend. That was a great thing that she came up with,” Steinert said. “We built on that through the year through her leadership. I appreciate that. My vision is to continue to increase communication levels between the ambassadors and Chamber members. As ambassadors, we will work hard to be visible in the community and help members better utilize the services of the Chamber.”
Steinert wants every Chamber member to value their membership.
“A lot of people say they like to be chamber members. In the background, they’re saying, ‘What does the Chamber do for me?
“That’s one of our goals this year — to really enhance that with our chamber members. I want to help our ambassadors utilize their individual skills as we contact every Chamber member. By the end of 2015, all Chamber members will be able to complete the statement — My membership with the Great Bend Chamber and Economic Development helps my business because —
“There will be a test at the end of the year. I want you to be ready for that. I want to thank you all for being Chamber members and make God bless you all and your businesses in 2015.”
Curt Mauler, L&M Contractors, served as the 2014 Chairman of the Chamber Board. He provided a look back at the past year.
“My plan was to focus my attention of the Chamber’s overall mission and I quote from the mission statement:
“(The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development) will promote and improve the business climate in the city of Great Bend through its services and partnerships that encourage growth and assist existing and new businesses in reaching their business goals.”
Mauler said the Chamber has promoted existing programs to address the needs of existing and new business and see that each business realizes the value of Chamber membership.
“We’ve made measurable progress toward this goal, in particular our mission statement in several areas in 2014 while addressing several challenges posed from those goals,” he said.
American Ag Credit, Almost Home and the Bartlett Grain facility headline 19 new businesses in 2014 that offer new banking, restaurant, retail and manufacturing with a $40 million investment and 90 new jobs. A housing shortage is being addressed by the development of the Reserves at Trail Ridge and the Amber Meadows expansion.
Mauler said the business climate has sharpened and improved through the Great Bend Farm & Ranch show. The Chamber has negotiated a five-year contract through 2019 with promoter Darren Dale to run the show.
Mauler also achieved one of his goals to embark on a capital improvement plan for the Great Bend Expo area.
“The Chamber has committed considerable financial resources to a special capital improvement fund for the purpose of improving the facilities,” he said. “Our hope is the effort will encourage other parties who benefit from the facilities will join us to contribute capital to these facilities.”
Mauler said he sees several encouraging signs. The Chamber’s young professional group has doubled its membership to more than 700 members.
“What better way to improve the business climate than to encourage young professionals to come to our community,” he said. “This growth has expanded past all expectations.”
Mauler said existing business have been encouraged to expand and realize their goals. Networking has included Chamber After Hours events. Business roundtables have focused on human resources, technology and marketing.
“These roundtables allow professionals to share ideas and experiences that can improve their own businesses,” he said. “This is a way to provide more value for your Chamber membership.”
Kenny Vink, Office Products, Inc., will serve as the 2015 Chairman of the Chamber Board. Vink said the next major event on the calendar is the 2015 Great Bend Farm and Ranch Show April 8-10. Hundreds of local people volunteer for the show parking, answer questions and assist with clean up.
“We are very lucky to have Darren Dale put on such a great event working the Great Bend Farm & Ranch Show,” Vink said.
Vink said one of his goals is to recognize and appreciate people who give their time for others. Vink recognized Cris Collier, Great Bend Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, as one of those people who help make the community a better place.
“There are few people who sing the praises of this city and the Golden Belt like Chris does,” Vink said. “I am proud of all Chris has done for the area.”
Vink said Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison and City Administrator Howard Partington have set a positive tone working for progress with the Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber has a strong partner for economic development within our city,” Vink said. “Together, we can strengthen our existing businesses and create an environment to bring in new businesses. Great Bend is now a destination city. for many.”
Vink said the best way to promote local growth is to shop locally because tax dollars recycle in the community. The revenue continues to pass through the community and develop local jobs and increased business development.
“The more you purchase locally, the more we will all grow,” he said.