Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce President Melanie Minter said the chamber has several things in the works for 2017.
"The chamber already had a great foundation when I started as president. It was my job in 2015 to take it all in, evaluate what we were doing and figure out how we would grow with our county," Minter, who took the helm of the local chamber two years ago, said.
Minter was familiar with the chamber's various outreach and program efforts through her roles on the board of directors and as vice chair of the membership committee.
However, learning the day-to-day operations of the chamber was new.
She spent 2016 building partnerships and educating members on how the chamber could help them.
"One thing we really focused on is our small business effort, whereas before we were a very events-driven chamber," Minter explained.
She initiated a business card exchange, during which a local business served as host site, helping build connections amongst chamber members.
"It takes them outside of the chamber (office), and it's a win-win for the businesses and the members. They all network for an hour," she said.
She's also focused on Small Business Saturday (SBS). This past SBS, held on the Saturday following Black Friday, the chamber partnered with Historic Lebanon, the Better Business Bureau and the City of Lebanon for a digital marketing strategy which helped small businesses work together to promote their goods during the season's busiest shopping weekend.
"The chamber focus and value of what we have to offer our small businesses continues to increase," Minter noted. "I truly believe that partnerships build successes."
In 2016 the chamber reached new heights in their educational programs, distributing 32 teacher grants totaling more than $18,000. They also added arts, music and special needs teacher grants.
In preparation for the New Year, Minter said she's evaluated programs to see which are the most valuable to chamber members, added some programs and revamped others.
For instance, Mike Moscardelli with PFP, LLC will chair the chamber's economic development committee with a focus on industry and manufacturing.
"We are hoping to form an industry council," Minter said. "As we are growing as a county, we want to keep those larger businesses here where they can prosper at whatever kind of business they are. Mike's committee will be doing surveys with businesses throughout the county to collect data and information for future programs needed from the chamber and our local community."
In February, Minter will unveil a "Women in the Lead" program.
Women in the Lead will be a Lunch & Learn on topics related to health and wellness, finances and balancing home and work life. "We will add a fun night to our program to share ideas and relax together," she said.
In the spring, she has planned a quarterly round-table meeting for non-profit organizations, which will be led by John McMillin of United Way.
"We are beginning on Friday, Jan. 27, a monthly Chamber Town News. Basically, it's a fun, positive news meeting the last Friday of the month from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. It will help everyone be in the know with current projects and happenings in our area," Minter continued.
One of the most fun - and stylish - ventures will be a Kentucky Derby Day Party, planned for May 6 at Legacy Farms in Lebanon.
Minter said the party will be an afternoon with big hats, mint juleps, and Southern fare for ticket holders. More information will be available as the event draws near.
The chamber will also take a hiatus of sorts from their Jammin' with the General Summer Concert series.
"We are going to have an event in August on the beautiful campus of Cumberland University," she said. "The Cedar City Food and Artisan Showcase will focus on food trucks and fine arts from Wilson County and surrounding areas."
The showcase will be a weekend-long event and is scheduled for August 5 and 6.
And let's not forget the chamber's annual St. Patrick's Day Open House.
Minter said the chamber will host an open house from 2 until 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17; however, they are doing things a bit differently to give back to local eateries.
"We are encouraging the community to go out and eat at these restaurants. For years they have provided food to us on St. Patrick's Day, and now we want to give back."
For more information about the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, visit www.lebanonwilsonchamber.com.