A renewed focus and some improvements in brand identity were the core of the message presented Tuesday at the Fayetteville Regional Chamber's "State of Our Chamber" luncheon.
The event, held at the Embassy Suites Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, marked the launching of two key changes for the Chamber.
First up was the announcement of a new economic development brand and image. The Economic Development Alliance of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, North Carolina (The Alliance for short) will serve as the Chamber-led program for job creation and development in the region. The group will have its own board of directors, headed up by volunteer chair Chris Bostock of Merrill Lynch.
"The Alliance gives us an opportunity to let our economic development team do the work it needs to do on its own, with a leadership group solely focused on those interests," said Chamber President & CEO Doug Peters. "As a key part of the recently completed Garner Strategy Report, we felt it was necessary to give economic development a home of its own."
With the change on the economic development side, the Chamber side is rebranding as the Fayetteville Regional Chamber.
"We're able to now put a focus on the Chamber-side platforms that we weren't able to really do before," Peters said. "We can now be the champions for small business and the chief business advocacy organization in the region."
With a broader focus that reaches across the entire statistical Fayetteville region, the Chamber will now be able to help reach businesses in all of the area counties that face many of the same struggles.
"Being in an area impacted so much by the defense industry, it's important for us to be able to stand strong for all our businesses," Peters said. "This isn't an attempt to infringe on anyone else's territory. This is us saying 'We've got your back' to any businesses that call our MSA home."
Mark Rice of Callahan & Rice Insurance was officially introduced as the new volunteer chairman of the Fayetteville Regional Chamber's board of directors. Rice will serve a one-year term.
Peters, Bostock and Rice all spoke about the unique challenges our businesses and our economic environment face.
"We know we've done good work in both economic development and for the Chamber members, but this really gives us a chance to step up our game," Peters said. "Gone are the days where the Chamber will be passive on issues facing our business community. We no longer have to worry about having the government entities being on the Chamber board. They are more accurately placed on the Alliance board, where they can help with strategic planning for pushing our community forward.
"We want to make it clear to everyone that the funding that comes from the city, county, PWC and the Community Development Foundation is strictly for the business of The Alliance and making this community stronger."
The new Alliance and Chamber brand images and names will roll out gradually in the coming months, but expect to see quick, aggressive work coming from both sides.
"We are hitting the ground running here," Peters said. "We have a strong membership to serve and we plan on making sure they know we are in their corner immediately."
One area the Chamber will get involved in quickly was announced by City Councilman D.J. Haire at the event. Haire spoke about his proposed plan to hire Fayetteville first. The plan is designed to have all public-funded projects give first priority to local businesses and people. Keeping money local will help drive a strong and stable community for years to come.
About the Chamber
The Fayetteville Regional Chamber is the area's chief business advocacy organization, serving to protect the interests of our business community. The Chamber, with the partnership of its entire membership, serves as the leading resource for networking and small-business development in the region.
About the Alliance
The Economic Development Alliance of Fayetteville-Cumberland County, North Carolina is the region's driver for business recruitment and growth. The Alliance, funded by the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission and the Community Development Foundation, strives to improve quality of life by creating wealth, jobs and investment in our community."