On Thursday, November 7th, the Goddard Chamber of Commerce held their 2019 Annual Meeting at Pathway Church. The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to update members on the business side of the Chamber – what staff and the Board have accomplished over the past year and what is planned for the coming year – rather than presenting that information at the Annual Mixer, as had been done previously.
2019 was a banner year for the Chamber, with numerous accomplishments. 2019 Chairman Maggie Seiler (First National Bank of Hutchinson) and Vice Chairman Erinn Bock (Tanganyika Wildlife Park) recapped 2019, starting with the Chamber’s biggest accomplishment – hiring a full time President/CEO. Since coming aboard in November 2018, Angie Duntz has made an incredible impact on both the Chamber and in the Goddard community. Under Angie’s strong leadership, several huge projects were completed, including the creation of a strategic plan and formalizing and strengthening the Chamber’s committees.
Thanks in large part to the presence of full-time staff, the Chamber grew in 2019, ending with a total of 76! members. Membership benefits were revised in 2019, thanks to feedback from the membership. Angie and the Board also worked very hard in 2019 to continue to strengthen relationships between the Chamber and the City, USD 265, community groups, and the business community.
In 2019, several changes were made to monthly events. The traditional monthly luncheon transitioned to a “lunch and learn” with presentations from both Chamber members and speakers from the SBA. The luncheon venue also received a refresh – having outgrown Pizza Hut, monthly luncheons moved to the beautiful meeting space at Dove Estates. Additionally, in order to give more members the opportunity to attend monthly networking events, Chamber Coffees and After Hours events were added each month.
2019 also saw the Chamber’s leadership of community events grow. National Night Out in August was incredibly well-organized under the strong leadership of the Chamber. The Amazing Race, a new event focused on driving community members to Chamber businesses, received a very strong response for a first year event. And, of course, the Chamber was excited to participate in Neighbors United and host the beer garden at Fall Festival.
President/CEO Angie Duntz treated Annual Meeting attendees to a sneak preview of the coming year, and as busy of a year as 2019 has been for the Goddard Chamber of Commerce, 2020 looks to be an even more exciting year of growth and change. The Chamber is a business built on relationships, and Angie and the Board will continue to work to strengthen the Chamber’s relationships across the community. New events for 2020 are already in the planning phase, including a Health Fair in February and a Disc Golf tournament in May. The Amazing Race will return for its second year and the Chamber will again lead the planning for National Night Out.
Part of 2019’s work for Angie and the Board included the creation of a Strategic Plan, and its implementation will begin in 2020. Thanks to input from members and a great deal of careful thought from Angie and the Board, the Chamber has identified five goals to intentionally work towards over the next three years. These goals include cultivating strong leadership from both the Board and staff; intentional communication efforts both internally and with the community; recruiting, engaging and retaining members; building relationships through community involvement; and development and retention of young professionals in the Goddard Community. The full strategic plan can be found on the Chamber’s website https://www.goddardchamber.net/strategic-plan.html.
2019 also saw Young Professionals of Goddard brought further under the Chamber’s umbrella as an official committee. Having operated as a subsidiary of the Chamber for several years, YPG has been extremely successful at bringing the community together for service through Neighbors United. Committee Chairman Rodney Elliott announced that in 2020, YPG will continue to help develop young professionals through a mentorship program and 2 leadership development events.
Leading the charge into 2020 alongside Angie will be the 2020 Executive Committee, elected by the general membership at the Annual Meeting. Maggie Seiler (First National Bank of Hutchinson) will continue to serve as Chairman, with Erinn Bock (Tanganyika Wildlife Park) serving as Vice Chairman. Kimberly Becker (Meritrust) will return as Treasurer and April Hernandez (Goddard Public Library), who had been serving in an interim capacity, is the official Secretary for 2020.
City Planner Micah Scoggan treated Annual Meeting attendees to a “state of the City” review as well. Micah reported that Goddard is growing – with an expected 605 new dwelling units under construction (or planned), the population of Goddard should grow by about 1,800 people over the next several years. As the population increases, commercial growth will follow. With the continued construction of the STAR Bond district, more businesses will move to town. Additionally, the completion of the aquatic center and ball fields will bring more opportunities for commercial growth.
Angie and Maggie closed out the Annual Meeting with some tips to help maximize your membership with the Chamber. All attendees received a packet with updated membership benefits, including some great new opportunities for digital marketing. All of the 2020 sponsorship information for Chamber events is available as well – and you can select all of your sponsorship options in January and pay quarterly (regardless of when your membership renews for the year). Additionally, the Chamber’s full calendar of 2020 events is available now – attending these events is a great way to meet other members as well as interact with the community at large.
In 2020, the Chamber will be working to continue to strengthen their committees, so if you or anyone at your business is passionate about events, membership and marketing, finance, communications, or young professionals, the committees are a great way to get involved. Anyone that has questions about how to best maximize their membership benefits is more than welcome to set up a meeting with Angie.
Mike Walsh, with Farmer’s Insurance, closed out the 2019 Annual Meeting by highlighting the importance of joining the Chamber. Mike began looking at opening his business in March of 2019 and after talking with Micah at the City, Mike realized that Goddard was a “no brainer” as far as location is concerned. And, after attending a few Chamber meetings and events, Mike saw the value in joining the Chamber. The opportunities to network and meet other small business owners have been incredibly helpful to him as he began his journey of opening a business in Goddard.
For our September luncheon, John Ash and Jon Grover with Digital Office Systems spoke about finding and choosing an IT provider. Over the last two decades, perspectives regarding IT and technology have changed drastically, and it’s crucial that businesses adapt to the changing technological landscape in a way that makes sense for their business and their bottom line.
The “digital revolution” has metamorphosed the way businesses use and interact with technology. From the “Adoption” age of the first decade of the 2000s, which saw the rise of ecommerce, to the “Build Up” of social media marketing, big data, and cloud services over the last half-decade, the technology landscape has undergone a massive evolution. And, in the last several years, this transformation has continued, with more and more businesses realizing just how much technology matters.
Digital transformation is about using technology to improve processes and enhance the customer experience with an emphasis on utilizing digital-intensive means to achieve goals. Of course, this can be a daunting proposition for many businesses, especially those whose current IT solution involves “Bob from Accounting” because he’s great with computers.
Security concerns facing businesses today – of all sizes – include computer viruses, spyware, email security, leaking confidential information, and a host of other attacks that the average businessperson may not even be familiar with. And it’s a scary technological world out there, with over $4.2 billion reported in victim losses annually. With $676 million of those losses stemming from business email breaches and a further $60 million from data breaches, it’s imperative that businesses take necessary security precautions.
Though large companies – and their technological blunders – receive the lion’s share of the press, small businesses are increasingly becoming popular targets, especially since they are less likely to have IT departments devoted to security. Taking a proactive approach for identification of, protection against, detection of, response to, and recovery from threats is a crucial step, much in the same way we take precautions to make sure our homes are as safe as possible.
Reducing liability is an aspect of security that companies would do well to spend more time considering. Making sure that employees have access to the resources they need – and making sure that employees don’t have access to resources they don’t need is often overlooked. Onboarding and offboarding employees can also be an area to reduce liability. Employers need to make sure that new hires have access and the proper training for their systems and, equally importantly, employers must have a process for cutting off access to systems and information once an employee has left the company. And, of course, there’s the need for creating an implementing policies to protect data.
Unfortunately, many small businesses are in a reactive position when it comes to IT security. Sometimes the “IT Department” consists of one overworked individual or at worst, the person in the office that knows the most about computers. It’s almost impossible for these small-scale operations to do anything but put out fires. Even small businesses that outsource some of their IT needs often rely on a “break/fix” model where their IT provider waits until something breaks before working to fix it.
To move forward in this digital age, businesses – especially small businesses – must realize that technology is both operational and strategic. Technology innovation, and the disruption that comes along with it, is a major factor in every industry today. In order to be successful, businesses must incorporate technology into their strategic plans. In fact, if done right, innovative technology solutions can be used to give businesses a competitive advantage.
Thankfully, there are options beyond the reactive IT models that so many small businesses are stuck using. Digital services managed by providers that view IT and technological solutions as a partnership can alleviate many of these concerns and free up internal IT staff for other tasks beyond the mundane day to day operations of data security.
When considering entering into a partnership for managed IT services, it’s crucial for business to first honestly assess where they are with respect to user support, industry standards, management and remediation, current technology, security, data and documentation, and technology strategy, planning and budgeting. Not every business needs to be on the cutting edge of each aspect of technology services, but it’s important for a business to see where they are and where they want to be.
Partnering with an IT firm provides a host of benefits that small businesses often can’t find with in-house IT staff. Even the best IT staff can’t work round the clock, but managed services can provide availability to monitor threats constantly. Fast service and response times mean that if problems occur, they can be quickly rectified by professionals. Taking over daily backups and cloud services, security testing and monitoring, and proactive maintenance means that your business is always up to date – even if Dave the “IT Guy” is on vacation.
Of course, as with choosing any service for your business, there are red flags to look for. If your prospective provider has no interest in getting to know you or your business, they aren’t likely to be interested in working with you to create solutions for your unique needs. And if they don’t provide a scope of services agreement up front to tell you what you’re going to get, that’s bad news too. Make sure you get a written commitment of service and a written contract – any good partnership with an IT firm is built on a solid understanding of each party’s responsibilities.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect IT solution for every business. Each business has unique needs, challenges, and concerns. However, it is crucial for businesses to realize that a reactive approach to security opens them up to an incredible number of very real dangers. The wolf is a the door, so to speak – being proactive to keep it at bay is vital to success in our digital age.