As I sit and reflect on the past year and formulate how to keep the Destin Area Chamber moving in a forward-thinking direction, it is important to recap the key points.
First of all, it is my honor to recognize Amy Perry, outgoing chairman, for all she has given to the Chamber over the past year of service. And to her husband, David, we thank you for supporting Amy during her year.
As we look ahead to 2015, I see great things. At our Board’s planning retreat in November, we took a look back at the last five years and saw what we’ve done well, where we needed to improve, and what we needed to change. I’m pleased to say that there was plenty of positive to see.
Thanks to the Board, membership is the highest it’s been in several years, our major events are drawing more attention than ever before, and our members are receiving more benefits. We want to continue that trend.
The Board determined that the Chamber’s efforts need to continue in the direction we are headed. We’ll continue to grow our tourism-related events, like Destin’s Bayou, Bay & Back 5K, 10K & Half Marathon, and we’ll begin preparations to add a full marathon to the event in 2016. I want to thank Shoreline Church for its continued title sponsorship.
Paddle at the Porch is still growing, and we cannot thank BOTE enough for its immeasurable support of the Chamber and this event. Plans are already underway for the most successful Paddle at the Porch over its four year history.
For our members, we’ll continue to provide networking opportunities, while improving the existing events. The monthly Leaders in Business Lunches will continue to be the leading monthly networking event. Our Business After Hours will continue to provide you the social aspect of networking. Bourbon at the Bay should continue to grow and be one of the most talked-about events in town. The success of our events is paramount to driving membership retention and growth due to the added value and immeasurable benefits we’re bringing to you, our members. I haven’t even mentioned the Multi-Chamber Business Expo and the Tax Relief Golf Tournament, two events that are staples for business development each year. We want you doing business with each other. You’ve heard it said at many of our functions – buy and shop local – and we want to emphasize that.
We will continue our efforts in community and economic development programs. The Chamber’s community education and leadership development program Destin Forward is receiving rave reviews and is stronger than ever. We know you’ll agree when you see the Class of 2015’s project in May! This project is one of the ways we work with the City of Destin to improve the community and economic viability Destin enjoys, which leads us to the spectacular quality of life we all love. We’ll work hard to maintain and improve our working relationship with the city and Okaloosa County.
We’ll continue to monitor pro-business legislation at the state and federal levels of government and take needed positions, and we’ll be the voice of the business community of the Destin area.
We’ll be sure that your Chamber stays involved regionally and statewide and be the advocates on managed growth and quality of life.
We want to ensure that the Destin Harbor is known for its history and economic impact, and we want to preserve that history. We understand that the harbor is the heart of our community, and we want residents and visitors alike to understand that history and heritage. We want quality, controlled growth there, and, above all else, we want the harbor to become a pedestrian friendly atmosphere so more and more families may safely enjoy it.
As always, we will continue to support our military through our Military Affairs Council.
So we hope that all business professionals agree on this plan, but the plan cannot be realized without all members' input and participation. We feel it’s aggressive, progressive, and just what the Chamber needs at this time. So how do we achieve this? We achieve this by working with the business professionals representing you on your Chamber Board. When you have something to suggest or would like to be a part of any aspect of the plan, please speak up, step up, or show up.
If you’ve attended a New Member Reception in the past 18 months, you’ve heard Shane tell the new members he wants them to think of the Chamber as only three things. He suggests that you look at the Chamber as access, opportunities, and relationships – that’s all we are and that’s all we provide. If you, our members, take advantage of the access to people and information we provide, you’ll create opportunities for you and your business to build relationships with others in the community. And as those relationships are built, you create more access, more opportunities, and more relationships. Just think how strong this Chamber, this community, and this economy could be if we all did that.
We look forward to serving you in 2015.
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.