by Denise Martin, Director of Membership, Greater Latrobe Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce
I really enjoy the beginning of a new year. It allows an opportunity to pause and reflect on the past twelve months – the highs and lows, successes and… well, let’s just say “good attempts” – and then consider what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year.
Aside from the normal resolutions like exercising, eating better, cleaning up a cluttered room, etc., it’s a wonderful time to find a unique passion, try something new, take that risk or build fresh relationships. I’m a strong believer that life in the comfort zone feels great, but you’ll only begin to grow and fully enjoy life when you step beyond the “comfort” and take the road less traveled.
We did exactly that in the greater part of 2014 here at the GLLV Chamber. Sure there was a “comfort level” of doing the same routine, the same events, the same conversations… people like familiarity, predictability and knowing what to expect. But that didn’t mean WE the Chamber, or YOU the Members were growing and moving forward. Predictability didn’t guarantee success.
So what did we do? We pushed out of our “comfort zone” and charted a new course! We knew there was a better way to help our Members: new ideas for success, a greater ability to excite our communities with better events, and there were definitely new conversations and important relationships that could be built. And that meant shaking things up, taking some risks and forging a new path.
Were we nervous? Yes. Did we have all the answers? No. Did we believe in our mission and our vision to build a stronger Chamber of Commerce, add more value to Chamber Membership and reengage with our businesses, schools and communities? You BET we did! So we set a course and got a little “uncomfortable” knowing we could make a difference and build a better Chamber.
One of the greatest visions our President David Martin had was to open a Visitor & Information Center. He believed we could create something special, a common place that would welcome residents and visitors alike, with information from our Members about their businesses and area attractions. He wanted to build a resource center to share the stories of where to live, work, eat, stay and play in our great communities, and to also share the history of some of the most remarkable people, organizations and businesses in our area. When you meet someone as forward-thinking and creative as David, you just jump onboard and prepare for the ride. One of our newest Members put it best when he said, “The GLLV Chamber is like a train speeding down the tracks. I knew I could either jump on the train, or get run over by it. So I jumped on board!”
What we’re doing IS exciting. We completely changed our look. We completely changed our events. We completely changed locations. We left our comfort zone because we wanted the coming year, 2015, to be BIGGER and BETTER for all our Members – for YOU! Every idea we have, every decision we make, every late night or long weekend is all about YOU! We want our Members to feel the value of membership and to partner with them for their success. We want our schools to benefit from our business focused educational programs and our communities to flourish with new faces and visitors and vibrant businesses. We want YOU to feel our commitment, our excitement – knowing it’s all about YOU – so when you hear that train whistle coming down the tracks you want to jump onboard.
If you’re already a Member, you know the excitement I’m talking about. We’ve seen so many familiar faces AND new faces at our monthly events; Networking Breakfasts, Ribbon Cuttings, and our brand new Business After Hours. We had nearly 100 people attend our first BAH in January and we were thrilled! It feels good to know you see the improvements and you LIKE them! If you aren’t a Member, you’ve probably heard about us, read articles about us, or just know of the “buzz” we’ve created in the last few months. Guess what? We’re just getting STARTED! Join us!
David’s vision is coming true, and we’re proud to announce The Neighborhood Visitor & Information Center opened on February 2! Our staff spent some long days, nights and weekends to make this dream come true. We already feel the VIC has connected our great communities, built some wonderful relationships and opened the door to endless possibilities for area growth. We are so excited to share the stories of our businesses, restaurants, lodging, attractions and our rich history. So many of our Members have sent us their business cards and media brochures or just stopped by to see The Neighborhood VIC. We’re organizing local memorabilia and art provided by Mr. Arnold Palmer, The McFeely-Rogers Foundation, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rolling Rock memorabilia from James Mickinak, Latrobe Art Center and more!
This resource center is the FIRST of its kind in our area. Last year at this time it was just a “thought” – perhaps even a New Year’s Resolution – to do something different, take a new risk, take that leap forward and grow. We can check that off our list. Done. Happening. ACHIEVED!
Now it’s YOUR turn! What did you want to do last year that just didn’t get done? Did your business grow like you’d hoped? Did you take that risk, find that new passion, and move out of your “comfort zone”? Why not start the New Year in a NEW direction, with us? We’ve already got the train moving forward and we’ve plenty of room for more passengers! GROW with us! Get excited about something different. Attend some new events, build new relationships, network with your “neighbors” and make a whole new group of friends. We’re here to help you make 2015 the BEST YEAR yet!
Remember what I said about feeling comfortable? We wiggled through the hard times, making all these changes to create a new Chamber, and as tough as it was…WE FEEL GREAT! We’re VIBRANT and FULLY ALIVE and invite you to jump onboard. Do you have a destination in mind? Let the GLLV Chamber take you there! All aboaaaaard!
Denise Martin is the Director of Membership at the GLLV Community Chamber of Commerce. She believes in building strong business relationships and regularly meets with current and prospective Members to understand their business needs and dreams. Denise was part of the outside team in 2014 specializing in the marketing and sales initiative of the new re-brand, and enjoyed the challenge and energy of the “new” Chamber so much, she joined the staff full time in January 2015. If you are interested in Chamber membership, she can be reached at Denise@gllv.org.