From the President’s Desk
Despite another year of economic challenges, your Chamber had a very positive and productive year. With careful planning and consistent fiscal monitoring, we not only had a successful year filled with valuable member services and benefits, we achieved impressive numbers in many categories.
Highlights accomplished under the leadership of Chairperson Armistead Mauck and his Board of Directors:
Last year during the Chamber’s 100th Anniversary those who over the past 100 years built our community were recognized. In 2012 we continued to mark this milestone with the dedication of the centerpiece sculpture donated by the Hill family and the placing of the Herritage Time Capsule in Centennial Park.
Volunteers – work was accomplished with the help of board members, committee members and a dedicated group of ambassadors.
New members Join – 58 new members joined in 2012
Total Members – In 2012, our business organization had 629 members!
Ribbon Cuttings – This year we hosted 29 Ribbon Cuttings
Beginning in February a diverse group of community leaders, board and chamber members attended yearlong Lenoir 2020 meetings designed to discover necessities to make our community poised for economic growth.
In November those same committee members and others attended Planning Sessions to help design the 2013 Program of Work
BBQ Festival on the Neuse – Has grown again hosting 25,000 attendees making it the largest event in our community!
I would like to thank the Chamber’s Board of Directors, the hundreds of volunteers, all of our Chamber members, Community Partners, and the Chamber Staff for their dedication and commitment to our mission and goals as we work collectively to make our community the best it can be for our businesses, residents, visitors, and future generations. Laura Lee Sylvester
Chairperson Armistead Mauck implemented the following as his visionary project for 2012:
“During 2012 my vision was to engage more community leaders (including persons of influence) in the leadership of the Chamber. This project began during the last quarter of 2011 with those involved on the Chamber Board of Directors as well as the Executive Committee. As 2012 began we were able to spread our cast even further with the Lenoir 2020 Committee and our panel of experts on the various long range planning topics. The end result as the year winds down are new and old leaders serving at the Chamber. I want to personally thank everyone that I have mentioned above (and you know who you are) for getting involved. For each one of you there was a specific reason that you were called upon and you did not disappoint. Let’s keep the momentum going!” -Armistead Mauck
The Executive Committee developed an ambitious Program of Work in 2012. Here are some highlights:
- The Finance Committee reports thatdespite a year filled with economic challenges, we ended the year solidly in the black. With the Chamber staff’s watchful eye and by taking advantage of every opportunity possible, we ended 2012 ahead of projections and were able to keep our reserves intact in addition to repairing the roof and making other necessary exterior upgrades to the Chamber’s building. In addition another $4,000 will be added to the reserve.
-Maximize Your Membership (MYM) individualized training sessions gave participants a better understanding of how they can utilize their membership and help grow their business.
-Non Profit E-Newsletter is a monthly communication tool for our members to send important messages to all chamber members.
-The President’s Club sponsorship program has 2 Gold level members and 14 Silver level members.
-Chamber Champions, a volunteer higher level membership program members raised nearly an additional $7,000 in revenues.
- Through the on-going efforts of the Membership Director, the Chamber welcomed 58 new members and ended the year with a total of 629 members.
-The Membership Services Committee now has 28 Ambassadors who continue to learn about the Chamber and spread this information throughout our community.
-Business After and Before Hours offer important networking events giving our members one more way to connect with the community and prospective clients. In 2012, several attracted a higher number of attendees than what is typical.
-The Business Update newsletter was published twice a month in The Free Press and informed both members and the general public about Chamber activities, programs, and benefits.
-The Membership Services Committee and Ambassadors assisted with 28 ribbon-cutting celebrations. Members of the committee helped with various Chamber functions, including the Festival on the Neuse and all the Business Before and After Hours. The Ambassadors continue to be vital to the Chamber’s success.
-The 2012 Membership Directory helped to recognized the conclusion of the Chamber’s 100th anniversary and was distributed throughout the year.
- “Quick Updates” emails communicated event reminders, and press releases continuing to keep members informed.
Economic and Community Development
-The Chamber’s website, www.kinstonchamber.com, continues to be a source of information and important links for businesses and individuals looking to relocate to our area. In 2012, thewebsite was updated again with new features with user interaction and a larger offering of information for residents, visitors and potential newcomers. A continued effort was made to improve search engine efficiencies and increase various entry points to the site. The site now includes a Biz Tip section and several new Photo Galleries. The Chamber continued to maintain www.visitkinston.com and www.festivalontheneuse.com.
- A new Chamber membership brochure was developed by the Community Development committee to market chamber benefits to potential members.
-Relocation packages containing new updated information were mailed on a regular basis. The Chamber also connected certain inquires to Lenoir County Economic Development, The Pride of Kinston, and others as needed.
-In 2012, the Chamber begun work on the 6th edition of Livability Kinston-Lenoir County, a high-quality glossy magazine which will be published in 2013. The publication will feature community content with portrayals of the quality of life that will empower key economic development agencies with a useful tool to promote the area. Livability.com/kinston/nc/magazine is a website that can be used electronically when courting out of town businesses and professional talent and includes valuable information and links. The site as a virtual issue of the Livability Kinston-Lenoir County magazine that can be emailed to interested individuals.
The Chamber has a very active Education Committee in place that reports to the Lenoir County Education Foundation Board of Directors. Committee members represent all levels of education in our county.
-Activities included: a Build a Back Pack project partnering with the United Way and offering school supplies to children in need; various fund raisers including the Adult Spelling Bee, a collaborative school visitation program, and a web presence spotlighting school news. The Education Foundation also received $3,825 in private donations and grants this year.
-Teacher Mini Grants were awarded for just over $6,000 for 14 projects in 10 schools.
-The Governmental Affairs Committee hosted a well-attended Wake-Up Lenoir event in 2012. The public was invited to meet with and talk to members of our Raleigh legislature.
-The Chamber participates in the North Carolina Eastern Region Chambers of Commerce group, which crafted a regional legislative agenda. This group will be presenting the agenda to the General Assembly members representing the thirteen counties on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 in Raleigh.
-The Governmental Affairs and Executive Committee reviewed and adopted support letters and resolutions as deemed necessary throughout the year.
Business and Tourism
-TLC, Think Lenoir County, continued the shop-local initiative reminding residents how important it is to shop locally and keep local tax dollars working for our schools, parks and more. A concerted effort was used to market this program.
-Red Carpet, offers human resources directors and realtors support as new talent is recruited. Potential newcomers are paired with local volunteers who will show them all of the good reasons to call Lenoir County home. In 2012 the Business and Tourism committee a well-attended Live Lenoir County program at Mother Earth Brewing Tap Room. The committee also partnered with the Committee of 100 and designed a brochure to market the program and incentives for new Lenoir County home owners.
-The Chamber supported the LCC Small Business Center’s workshops with marketing and awareness.
-The Chamber continues to administer the Tourism Development Authority and the visitkinston.com. The TDA Board of Directors contracts with the Chamber of Commerce to administer the program each year. This group has been responsible for providing up to $100,000 in SETRAC grants assisting area projects and providing local organizations help with capital improvements. In addition the TDA markets our community to tourists, travelers, and visitors. Their marketing plan utilizes occupancy tax dollars according to the NC State legislative statute.
Special Projects and Events
-The Chamber again hosted the Annual Banquet, Living the Good Life Expo, BBQ Festival on the Neuse, Leadership Lenoir, Small Business Awards, the Pinnacle of Achievement, and recognized the Administrative Professional of the Year.
-The year began with the Annual Banquet announcing the Ambassador of the Year and the Citizen of the Year and was attended by over 150 members.
-In May, the Chamber’s main fundraising event, BBQ Festival on the Neuse, grew to over 25,000 attendees over the two day event and again included fireworks. A record number of organizations partnered in this event offering a variety of activities for individuals and families. The new BBQ volunteer committee’s planning and organization helped the festival to be the best it has ever been.
-The Chamber hosted the Living the Good Life Expo in partnership with Vernon Park Mall, Lenoir County Cooperative Extension, Tourism Development Authority (VisitKinston.com), Steve Hardy’s Original Beach Party, Lenoir County SPCA, and The Free Press. The event grew again with over 100 vendors and well over 1,000 participants. The Taste of the Good Life Challenge competition proved to be a huge success once again this year.
-The Chamber again offered “Ghost Walk of Kinston”. This entertaining fact-based tour included period dressed actors and a few surprises along the way.
-As in previous years, the Chamber hosted the Safety Awards in cooperation with the NC Department of Labor. These regional awards are presented by NC Labor Commissioner Cherie Killian Berry.
-The DAC took a new direction utilizing the talents and skills of many community leaders. Beginning in February a diverse group of community leaders, board and chamber members attended yearlong Lenoir 2020 meetings designed to discover necessities to make our community poised for economic growth.
The Lenoir 2020 committee had the following mission and goal:
To convince businesses and industries located here to expand their existing operations and recruit new businesses and industries to locate here.
To make our city and county attractive so the people who work and manage our businesses and industries choose to live and shop here.
The committee set out to raise awareness and identify deficiencies in five focus areas: Education, Housing and Amenities, Health Care, Public Safety and Human Relations. Results will be incorporated into the Chamber’s 2013 Program of Work.
Young Professionals of Lenoir County
-This Chamber fostered group was formed in 2008 with a mission to connect young professionals, enrich their lives through leadership development, and empower them to be the leaders of tomorrow. In 2012, they offered an abundance of monthly programs and gatherings throughout the year that attracted many attendees. They concluded a first round of Junior Leadership Lenoir and is in the midst of hosting a second class this year. In December, during their annual banquet, new officers were announced and in cooperation with The Free Press, 20 under 40 awards were presented. They also recognized the Young Professional of the Year and Mentor of the Year.