Ask 50 people to define the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce and what it does, and you’ll get 50-plus answers. There are several reasons why the definitions are so numerous, but the main reasons are because the mission and services of every community’s chamber of commerce is different and most continually change to meet the needs of their constituents.
Two common misconceptions about the Sheridan County Chamber is that we are part of the city or county and that we are a for-profit organization. The Sheridan County Chamber is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. This means that the Chamber is not organized for profit, is exempt from federal income tax but still pays local taxes. Although we work very closely with the city and county in many aspects, we are not administered by them or any other organization. We are an independent membership organization with our own board of directors that oversees administration and policies.
As for what we do, in short, the Chamber serves as a primary resource hub for businesses, relocations, residents and visitors. To detail all we do would take this entire newspaper, but I’d like to focus on a new initiative of the Chamber.
We recently underwent a strategic planning process and came away from that process with several key initiatives and a new mission statement: “The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce is a catalyst for business prosperity and a champion for a stronger community.”
Supporting the needs of our business community has always been the priority of the Chamber, but how we do that is ever changing. Based on feedback from our stakeholders, one of the initiatives of our strategic plan is to have a greater role in advocacy for our business members.
We’ve played a key role in affecting change in the past for our businesses, but now we’re taking a more official role in addressing issues. The Chamber’s board of directors adopted an official advocacy policy in April. The policy provides guiding principles as well as what approaches the Chamber can take, such as adopting a public position and fostering community dialogue and the process for identifying, researching and addressing advocacy issues. Most issues will come through one of the Chamber’s volunteer committees — Ag and Natural Resources, Ambassadors, Business Retention and Expansion, Government Affairs or Leadership Steering. The diverse representation provided by our committees allows for a thorough initial vetting and, from there, a decision on whether to send an issue to the board for final approval. With more than 670 members and numerous partnerships with other community organizations, the scope of the Chamber makes us the largest voice in Sheridan County to advocate for business and affect change. We are uniquely suited as the community’s leader for business advocacy, and it is a role we embrace as a catalyst for business prosperity and a champion for a stronger community.
If you are interested in learning more about the Chamber and what we do, we’d love to talk with you. Call us at (307) 672-2485.
Jodi Hartley is marketing and communications director at the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.