Last Thursday, Chamber staff, Government Affairs Committee representatives, and interested members traveled to Salem to meet with legislators and discuss pro-business ideas and agenda. Our group was joined by members from both the Medford/Jackson Chamber and the Grants Pass Chamber. Our goal was to represent the voice of business and lobby on behalf of business issues that could affect your business.
Our group met with many elected officials including Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney, both Democrats. They shared with us information on proposed minimum wage increases as well as mandatory paid sick leave - both bills that could have negative impacts to our local businesses (and business across the state). This meeting with Kotek and Courtney allowed business owners a chance to explain first hand the hardships these bills could create. One restaurant owner shared that should the mandatory paid sick leave bill pass, he would need to sell over 200 more hamburgers per day.
As representatives and senators, Democrats and Republicans, came in to visit with our group, it became clear that business owners need to pay close attention to the happenings in Salem and send emails and letters as appropriate and when necessary. Our Government Affairs Committee (GAC) watches legislation closely and meets on a regular basis to advocate on your behalf.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
Kat: One of my very first Vice Presidents that I worked for in the credit union industry, Mary Beth Scott. I was a very young leader and she was so helpful to me in learning to discern the needs of other leaders around me and above me. In understanding their styles, personalities, and needs I can adjust my responses and create much more impactful outcomes.
In May, we will host the Maximum Impact Leadercast event at Oregon Tech. This exciting event brings world-renowned speakers together to share their knowledge and experience with you. As we countdown to Klamath’s premiere leadership event, we wanted to spotlight a few of our local leaders.
We’ve chosen a few leaders in our community and asked them to share their thoughts and ideas about leadership.
I recently conducted a workshop focused on one of the least utilized Chamber benefits - Basin Business. To begin with, I attempted to discover why more members aren't using it. The reasons are fairly simple:
- You don't know what Basin Business is.
- You don't know how to submit items for it.
- You don't know why you should use it.
- You don't know what to write about.
Fortunately, the answers are fairly simple too.
What is Basin Business?
Guest Blogger: Dan Keppen, President Family Farm Alliance and Chamber Board President
From a professional standpoint, I now have twenty six years of experience in water resources engineering and policy matters. Since the mid-1990’s, I have worked primarily in advocacy positions representing Western irrigators, including ten years as executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, over three years as executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), and four years at Northern California Water Association. In my decade at the Alliance, the organization has been asked to testify (by both parties) before Congress 45 times. I think this is some of the best evidence I can point to which supports how our organization is viewed nationally as a leader in the Western water arena.
I have lived in numerous communities in several states during the course of my life and career. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve been fairly active in community affairs. However, before moving to Klamath Falls in 2001, most of those activities were tied, directly or indirectly, to my work. That changed significantly when I moved to Klamath Falls. My first few years in the Klamath Basin were very stressful and intense, as KWUA was in the midst of one of the most controversial, high-profile water conflicts in the country. After the devastating water curtailment of 2001, KWUA and other leaders in the local community and our elected officials managed to keep water flowing to the farmers in the ensuing years. When I stepped down from KWUA in 2005 to start my own business, I felt a debt of gratitude for a community that openly shared its appreciation for the work we had accomplished during a very contentious period.
In fact, the work-related award I most cherish is the “First Citizen” award presented to me by the Chamber of Commerce in 2005. Prior to 2005, much of my “civic duty” commitments were applied in a variety of local, regional and national water and environmental endeavors, where I felt I could best apply my talents. After stepping down from KWUA, that changed. I felt an immense sense of gratitude towards this community that I wanted to pay back in terms of a much more local sense of “civic duty”.
There’s some shake-up happening here at the Chamber and we’re excited about where we’re headed. As we make announcements about our new focus over the next few months, we think you’ll be excited too.
To begin with, you may hear about changes to two events: the Snowflake Parade/Festival and the 4th of July celebrations. After much discussion, we identified two outstanding organizations to take on the organization, planning, and management of these events.
The American Legion Post 8 has taken on the Snowflake Parade/Festival this year. They’ve been identifying sponsors, adding some exciting events to the lineup, and will manage the parade. We’re excited for the energy and focus they’ll bring to the Festival.
Following an electronic survey to the Chamber membership that indicated strong support, the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce General Board has voted to publically endorse the Klamath Falls City School District bond measure 18-99. The measure will provide local funding for improvements to buildings and infrastructure in the City school district. The bond will raise $36 million, the bulk of which will be used to remodel and upgrade Klamath Union High School.
Over 20% of the Chamber membership responded to the survey and about 2/3’s of the respondents supported the bond and the Chamber taking a public position of endorsement. Survey respondents touched on the need to improve school buildings as part of economically moving the community forward, providing upgraded educational opportunities for our children, and finding ways to stabilize local property values. Improved schools meet all of these needs.
Like most of you, I’ve heard of the air quality issues here in Klamath but have not really paid much attention. I’ve been guilty of burning on a red day. My house was cold and the woodstove was the affordable way to heat it.
I was somewhat forced to learn more about air quality through my work at the Chamber. You may or may not know the Chamber is involved in economic development and I learned air quality IS about economic development. And now more than ever, it’s a priority.
We have a window of opportunity over the next six months. If we can reduce our wood smoke, we can avoid more government intervention and regulation. If we fail to reduce the wood smoke, these interventions could force our existing industries to shell out millions of dollars to meet new, stiffer regulations. These new regulations will make it difficult to attract new industries to our community. Whether we’re talking existing or new industries, failure to reduce wood smoke could negatively impact jobs!
Choosing what tools you will use to spread the word about your business an important part of your marketing plan. Whether you decide to use the internet, newspaper, television, or all three, it should be included in your marketing plan and your marketing budget.
One of the best ways to assure that your business is recognized across all advertising mediums is to create a logo. When you use a logo regularly, people will begin to associate that logo with your business. For instance, think of some national businesses you are familiar with. Some of them don’t even use their business name in their advertising anymore because they simply don’t need to. Their logo is so widely known, that if they air a commercial on television, all they have to do is flash their logo and everyone knows what business the commercial is for. If you develop your own logo, people who come in contact with your business will learn to think of you any time they see the logo, in any media you choose to advertise.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a logo. If you can’t create your own, there’s likely to be a graphic artist or a web designer who would be willing to help you for a lower price than a professional marketing firm. They may even be willing to trade services with you, or set up a payment plan. There are a few professionals within the Chamber membership, check with them and mention you're also a member.
If you are a business that provides material goods to customers, you need to have a plan for disbursing those goods. Most of these are stores where customers enter and purchase their items, but a growing number of businesses are either partially, or entirely online. Businesses that have, in the past, been entirely physical places are now starting websites to reach more customers in a larger geographical area.
When a business expands in this way, it is important to decide how these items will be distributed. What shipping company will be used? How much will you charge the customer for shipping? Some businesses charge all customers one flat rate for shipping, and others offer free shipping. It is also a good idea to decide in advance how you will handle overseas orders. Whether you will ship overseas or not should be noted on your website.
Special offers should also be noted on your website, if you have one. People love a good deal. If you’re trying to increase your customer base, one of the best ways to get new customers in the door is by offering discounts, free trials, package deals, money back guarantees, or free items. Oftentimes, specials such as these draw new potential customers, as well as bring back customers you haven’t seen for a while. Be careful not to train your clients that if they wait long enough, there will be a special offer. Try to plan any special deals around times that your business usually slows down.