Johnson: BV Chamber works to add value to membership
By Kelby Newcomb
Steve Johnson, executive director of the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber had a successful year in 2018. One of the biggest accomplishments, he said, was adding value to Chamber memberships.
“We introduced some new services and new workshops to help add to the value of Chamber memberships,” he said, “and to help small businesses locally to grow their business and learn new skills.”
The workshops also gave Chamber members who were experts in various fields the opportunity to share valuable information with the attendees at the workshops, he said.
“We had a Legal Pitfalls workshop about things that business owners should know about,” Johnson said, “taught by Kelsey Bardwell, a partner in the new law firm in town, Sprott, Golden & Bardwell.”
He continued, “Bob Moore, publisher of Carroll County News, also taught a class on the four principles of marketing. We had social media workshops and a new business workshop open to not only Chamber members but anyone in the community.”
Johnson said Jeffrey Salzer of the Small Business Administration in Fayetteville presented the new business workshop, offering advice on what it takes to start a new business in Berryville.
“Those were exciting to do,” he said. “We have plans for not only adding more workshops this next year, but we’re also going to introduce some virtual workshops where people can take the workshops through their email. We’ll be able to deliver advice, coursework and action step forms that they can do in their own office and share with their marketing team or management team.”
Johnson said the Chamber wants to continue offering services that make it simple and easy for businesses to grow in this area.
“We wanted to add more ‘value added’ services to the membership,” he said. “We’re keeping our membership rates the same as they were last year, but we’re adding more benefits and services and enhancing some of the services we’ve offered in the past.”
Johnson said the Chamber’s success in 2018 would not have been possible without the Chamber Board of Directors.
“We have a great team on our board of directors,” he said. “They’re very young and energetic. I’m really excited to work for them and see their enthusiasm for growing the membership of the Berryville Chamber and being involved in leadership development in our community.”
Some of the Chamber’s other big accomplishments for 2018, Johnson said, were a successful Ice Cream Social in May, a strong Chamber Awards Banquet and assisting with the grand opening of the Carroll County Career Center.
“At the beginning of the week before the awards banquet, we had the governor here for the C4 ribbon cutting,” he said. “It wasn’t a Chamber event, but we helped support the C4 program. Businesses in the local area came together to make that a reality.”
He said students from the Junior Chamber Board helped serve lunch at the C4 opening and the Chamber Awards Banquet in addition to doing community service projects throughout the year.
“It’s really exciting to see the quality of students who are in our Junior Chamber Board,” he said.
In 2019, Johnson said he is looking forward to continuing the Chamber workshops, including providing workshops that Chamber members have specifically requested.
“We’ll be introducing some new items,” he said, “like promoting a Downtown Berryville walking tour, introducing a visitor map and coming up with more items that we’ll get out to our welcome centers to help bring visitors here.”
These projects will not only help current Chamber members, he said, but also promote Berryville as a great place to bring businesses or relocate.
“Berryville is a great town, and I’ve heard it said that ‘Berryville feels like home,’ ” Johnson said. “That resonates with me in that Berryville is a hidden gem in the Ozarks. I feel like my job is to be a cheerleader for all of Berryville. I’m looking forward to doing that with the board of directors’ help.”
He continued, “Of course, the Ice Cream Social will be the main summer event, and we hope to bring more people to town for Fire on the Mountain on July 4. We have various new things we hope to introduce to support new businesses coming to town.”
Johnson said all the support the Chamber gets locally from business leaders in the area makes a huge difference.
“We’re excited about the new year that’s coming up, and we’re hoping to continue offering new and relevant things to our membership,” he said, “so we can help them grown and find new ways to find their ideal customers, grow and expand their business and become more profitable.”