Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce tries for new membership mark

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce tries for new membership mark

August 2nd, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Ron Harr, VP of Member-Investor Services Sandra Brewer and executive committee member Mitch Patel, from left, ride in a limousine in Chattanooga. The Chamber has been using a converted limousine van to visit potential new members while dressed in top hats and tuxedos in an effort to ramp up recruiting.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

EVENT CHAIRMEN

Darlene Brown, Real Estate Partners

Mike Costa, WTVC NewsChannel 9

Dr. Marc Cromie, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic

Rusty Gray, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Tom Griscom, consultant

Craig Holley, CapitalMark Bank & Trust

Penny Hughley, AIM

Alison Lebovitz, speaker and author

JJ Jerman, Office Furniture Warehouse

Dan and Lisa Nausley, Sandler Training

Mark Ramsey, Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams

Tiffanie Robinson, WayPaver

Edna Varner, Public Education Foundation

Jim Vaughn, SunTrust Bank

Roy Vaughn, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

For Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chief Ron Harr, 2,014 members in 2014 has a nice ring to it.

Starting Tuesday, the business group will make a three-day push to set the highest membership mark in its 127-year history.

About 400 volunteers will call their own businesses contacts over the period to try to gain 250 more members and hit the milestone, Harr said.

"Chattanooga is doing so well with Volkswagen, Plastic Omnium and Coke adding to our momentum," Harr said, citing recent jobs announcements by the companies. "Why shouldn't the Chamber be growing?"

Sandra Brewer, the Chamber's vice president of member investor services, said the "Your Chamber Connection Event" earlier traveled in a conversion van that Vision Hospitality CEO Mitch Patel uses as a mobile office to round up volunteer event chairmen and landed 15 of them.

She said the event will offer a fun and competitive atmosphere that's a twist on a typical membership drive.

"It's an opportunity to connect and support your community," she said.

Chamber membership starts at $320 a year for businesses with one to three employees. Dues ramp up to $3,000 for 100 workers at the "Executive Circle" level, plus $5 for each additional employee.

Harr said the business group had about 1,400 members six years ago. That number was upped to 1,600 two years ago, and it has now around 1,800, he said.

"We think we can do better," Harr said. "We've had an extremely positive reaction. It's the perfect time for it."

Harr said officials view the Chamber as a network.

"The bigger the network, the more value it brings," he said.

Harr said a large number of its members are small businesses.

"For some people, that's all the marketing they do," said the Chamber CEO, who plans to leave the group in October as former Mohawk Industries executive Bill Kilbride takes the helm.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.