What does the Chamber of Commerce do exactly?
As the Executive Director of the Chamber, I have the opportunity to speak to many individuals, groups and organizations. I begin my presentations by asking the audience if they have a clear understanding of what role their local Chamber plays within the community. The answers I receive cover a wide spectrum of possibilities, most of which are slightly less than accurate.
Since October has been declared by Gov. Wolf as Local Chamber of Commerce Month, I thought this was a great time to clearly define the purpose of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce. In his declaration Gov. Wolf stated, “Our local chambers of commerce play a critical role in supporting the needs of our vibrant business community and are essential to the commonwealth’s continued economic growth and advancement.”
A good place to begin in understanding the Chamber’s purpose is by reading our mission statement. It states, “The mission of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce is to lead, promote, represent, support and attain economic growth and prosperity for the communities of Mifflin and Juniata Counties, on behalf of its membership.” How does the Chamber work to fulfill that mission? The first way is our very active Business and Education Committee. This diverse group consisting of school administration, educators, and business & industry representatives who collaborate to offer career development activities for the students in our 2-county area. The result is that businesses benefit by their ability to hire a more prepared workforce, and students are better equipped to choose their career paths.
Our Chamber mantra, “Get Connected!”, also hints at another way the Chamber works to fulfill its mission through the offering of networking opportunities. Since networking is vitally important to the sustainability of every business, organization, or industry, the Chamber offers many road-tested ways for our members to network. This creates and strengthens relationships with like-minded individuals.
The Chamber also believes that personal growth is important and offers continuous training opportunities. One such opportunity, the Chamber Leadership Institute, trains future community leaders. The institute began in 2019 with 15 students and focuses on providing an opportunity for them to incorporate prior experience with newfound knowledge, so they are equipped and empowered to influence those around them. The annual Women’s Leadership Symposium was developed to focus on the specific challenges women face in the workforce as well as their daily lives. Lunch and Learn events are also offered covering topics from utilization of social media in marketing, generational differences in the workplace, dealing with difficult people, and other useful topics.
Every local Chamber in PA is unique, focusing on the specific needs of their community, but all strive to further the interests of business and industry. Our goal is to work alongside of our business community and to be a valuable tool. We rely on partnerships with organizations such as the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals, and others to continue our mission for advocacy and support for our business community.
Rhonda Moore is executive director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce.