With the new year now in full swing, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce continues to work to identify the programs and services that can best serve our business community. Like most businesses, we move steadily forward in pursuit of our goals.

Although there’s a lot of work on the horizon, I find a great sense of pride in the accomplishments our members worked to achieve in 2013, including…

• Efforts continued on the chamber’s Partners In Progress program. The chamber, along with its program partners, hosted roundtable discussions with more than 125 businesses to share concerns and find solutions on independent business issues. Regardless of industry or size of business, one of the most pressing concerns expressed was the need for a concerted workforce readiness program. The chamber is expanding the Partners In Progress program to include efforts in support of workforce readiness.

• As the new session is under way, we can still reflect on the impact of the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance’s (EVCCA) introducing a House Bill with the help of our District 12 legislators, which outlines requirements for unemployment claimants to provide sufficient information for the Department of Economic Security (DES) to determine the person’s eligibility for benefits. The bill was intended to simplify the process of appealing claims that are not eligible for benefits. Gov. Jan Brewer has since signed the bill into law.

• The chamber’s referral teams reported more than $3.2 million in closed business between chamber members during calendar year 2013. The closed business figures are reported on a weekly basis by participants in the chamber’s referral teams – industry-exclusive groups who work to build strategic partnerships with one another and understand the products and services provided by each member of the group.

• Gov. Brewer signed her sales tax reform bill, bringing closure to an issue that has lingered since the governor’s days in the Legislature nearly two decades ago. Members of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, including Linda Stanfield of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, served on the sales tax reform taskforce as the governor worked to finalize the bill.

• The chamber’s Gilbert Leadership program named 28 members of Class XXII with a diverse representation of professionals working in areas including health care, education, insurance and engineering.

• The chamber’s Public Policy committee finalized months of research and provided recommendations to the Board of Directors and Town Council members, including a letter of support for consistent building codes between regional municipalities and support for the Heritage District’s Arts, Culture, and Entertainment District to include a long-term strategy discussion regarding future development uses and zoning.

• Anthony Miles of Gilbert-based 4th Wall Productions, LLC was awarded two Telly Awards for his work on video production projects on behalf of the Shop Gilbert campaign and the Gilbert Chamber’s executive housing initiative. For each project, Miles was named as a Bronze winner in the 34th Annual Telly Awards for cinematography and videography.

• The Gilbert Chamber introduced Chamber Chat — an informal gathering for professionals to network. No agenda, no script, just good food, great company and friendly conversation. These monthly events have grossed more than $2,400 in sales at member restaurants.

• Adrianne Lynch, economic development director of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, completed the Economic Development Essentials program presented by the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E.) in partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and was selected to serve on W.A.C.E’s ‘Emerging Leaders’ taskforce.

As we move into 2014, our members will continue to work to ensure a pro-business environment to grow and develop not only their own businesses but all Gilbert businesses. Chamber members build their identity through leadership and expand their network through the investment of time and trust. It’s a pleasure to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished together and to work in anticipation of the great things to come this year.

• Kathy Tilque is president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at Kathy@gilbertchamber.com.

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