Connections is the newsletter of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. The CCC reserves the right to edit submitted materials and is solely responsible for editorial content. Please address press releases and letters to Lisa S. Cohen.
Publisher: Kelly Thompson Clark
Managing Editor & Ad Contact: Lisa S. Cohen
Published by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
859 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139
Kelly Thompson Clark President & CEO
Lisa S. Cohen Director of Communications
Caryn Saitz Director of Community Relations
Terrence F. Smith Director of Government Affairs
Daisy Bowler Office Manager
Officers of the Board of Directors
Chair William Sage Sage Hotel Corporation
Treasurer Arthur Spears East Cambridge Savings Bank
Clerk Penny Garver, Sovereign | Santander
Members of the Board of Directors
Alex Attia, Charles Hotel
Joseph Barrell, Acorn Realty
Carl F. Barron, CARU Associates
Brian Burke, Microsoft
Dennis Carlone, Carlone & Associates
Sheldon Cohen, Community Mapping
Robyn Culbertson, Cambridge Office for Tourism
John DiGiovanni, Trinity Property Management
Andrea Gabrielle, Neptune Web, Inc. Sarah Gallop, MIT
Kathy Gram, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company
Kathleen Granchelli, Draper Laboratory
Skip Hartwell, Akamai Technologies
Jeffrey Lockwood, Novartis
Thomas Lucey, Harvard University
Norman McIver, Cambridge Trust Co.
Ellen McLaughlin, Tutoring Plus of Cambridge
Neal Mizner Metropolitan Moving & Storage Corp.
Michael O’Connell Mount Auburn Hospital
Amy Reilly, Biogen Idec
Rachael Solem Harding House at Harvard
Ann Stanesa, Genzyme Corporation William Zamparelli, NSTAR
James C. Hawkins, Director Emeritus
hambers of Commerce perform a balancing act to ensure that their members’ needs are being met. The more varied a chamber’s membership—including the size and types of companies represented—the more challenging this balancing act can be.
Many companies join their local chamber for business development and networking or, “to help make their phones ring and doors swing.” While these services are important, they are not the only reasons why businesses join. The size of a business has a lot to do with its reasons for membership.
Since approximately 60% of all registered businesses in both the US and Canada have five or fewer employees, it is no surprise that membership in most chambers is heavily comprised of smaller companies. It is also no surprise that smaller organizations join their local chamber for reasons significantly different from those of their larger counterparts. That makes sense because their needs are so different. Smaller organizations are looking for help building their business. They need services such as training programs, business discounts and marketing/exposure assistance.
While small businesses look dollar for dollar for service, large businesses look for less direct service and more community-oriented initiatives. Larger companies are more interested in how their local chamber can help lobby local government and, ultimately, affect their local lawmaker’s political agenda. They already have insurance; they want advocacy and help working with the government and community.
The first challenge of any chamber is recruitment. A chamber has to effectively market itself to businesses both small and large. The bigger the business, the more it wants to be associated with other influential players in the community. A chamber has to be out front on the issues and involved enough to attract their attention. This requires time, effort and superior skills on the part of the Board and professional staff. They need to make sure that the chamber is perceived in the best light and as the focal point of the needs of the business community. Fortunately, this is a role the CCC has handled effectively.
Retaining members is also a major concern for any chamber. Both membership segments provide unique retention challenges that are addressed differently. Prior to the economic downturn (which skewed even the strongest numbers), the national retention average was 71% and the CCC’s retention was 81%. Even in 2009, we saw an 80% retention rate. This is due to an involved membership, community and excellent programming. The CCC is like a machine; all the right parts must be there in order to build it. The Board and staff will keep the machine serviced. We hope you’ll keep it running!
Best in business,
Kelly Thompson Clark
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