Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce’s January Zoom meeting featured Tanya Watson, executive director, presenting the State of the Chamber address.

In 2020, 13 members joined the chamber roll despite the pandemic. Total membership for 2020 ended with 130 members. Sixteen members have joined to participate in the Chamber Insurance Plan through the Missouri Chamber Federation. Six of those businesses are in the local area.

The chamber works hand-in-hand with the Dallas County Economic Development Group. Hollie Elliott, director of the DCED, and Watson will continue to offer support to existing, new businesses and growing businesses in the Dallas County community. 

Due to COVID restrictions, many of the chamber activities in 2020 were canceled. The chamber is continually learning to evolve and adapt new ways of providing services in 2021. The board will evaluate events as the chamber progresses through the coming months.  

Watson explained, “The chamber will continue through March on Zoom. The hope is to re-evaluate then and continue in-person meetings. During the pandemic, virtual meetings were because of the duty to our part to stop and slow the spread of the virus in this community. We kept in line with the city of Buffalo, which went along with the governor’s Missouri guidelines. We support our schools in the decision to keep kids in school. Businesses have struggled to keep their doors open because of the spread. And business is our top priority. All training and educational offerings, such as our monthly GRO Buffalo Speaker Series, and DIVAS meetings, have been moved to virtual for several months now and will continue to be virtual for the foreseeable future.”

Chamber to individual business contact slowed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Watson told us she wants to talk with each business. She can be reached by phone, email or come out in person to determine how the chamber can help.

The promotion of the community with a focus on tourism is a top priority for 2021. The area is full of outdoor activities, such as Bennett Spring State Park, camping, rivers, fishing and outdoor stuff. The chamber plans are to toot the county’s horn to capitalize on tourism.

The chamber is the recipient of CARES funding. Watson and Elliott applied for CARES funding and were granted $7,000.

Watson was excited to announce, “We are working to develop a co-share workspace that would accommodate and help support online consults, educational training or other business support resources. We strongly feel that entrepreneur and business support are critical to recovery and resilience efforts. We purchased equipment with the CARES funds to help us get this project off the ground. Hollie and I will be releasing more details on our plans in the coming weeks.”

The chamber believes communication with business membership and the community is critical. Through the pandemic, communication became a challenge. The chamber could not meet the demands of a completely remote work environment. From the lockdown to today, the constant flow of changing information made clear that the way the chamber was doing things was not sufficient.

With the CARES funding, the chamber has subscribed to ChamberMaster/GrowthZone to implement software that will help better manage general chamber operations and provide a better system for sharing information with the membership.

ChamberMaster software will streamline chamber operations, using a web-based database program that is accessible from any computer. This software will allow the chamber to operate remotely and maintain contact with businesses. Watson is training for the implementation of the new system. Also, the chamber purchased a Zoom account, as all meetings have moved to an online format.

Other chamber business

The chamber’s Zoom meeting is recorded and is available for distribution. If anyone would like to view it, Watson will send it to them. Contact her at buffalochamber@gmail.com.

The Buffalo Reflex gives two advertising packages to faithful chamber members each month, picked at random. January’s winners are John’s Tech Shop and Buffalo Dairy Queen.

The month’s featured business, Garden for Life, Gardening Revolution, was also drawn from random selection. 

The board and Watson are asking for feedback about the recent auction and Facebook raffle. When planning for 2021, members should give comments regarding fundraisers to Watson. COVID-19 knocked out two significant events that bring the chamber’s funding. Feedback for new fundraising ideas is welcome. Everyone wants to plan activities that are safe and better each time.

The membership announced local activities. First, Sammi McCleary invited the membership to the Mom Prom. The Mom Prom is from 6 to 9 p.m. March 6 at Timber Line Barn. The fundraiser supports the back-to-school supply drive. On Jan. 24, a companion fundraiser, Brunch and Browse, will have prom dresses available. Contact McCleary for information at Honeysuckle Road.

Hollie Elliott announced that now Dallas County is included in a small business women’s center. There are 20 new centers and 15 counties. Elliott serves on that advisory board. The center provides resources, training and counseling, business development and has a five-year funding base. She also announced the executive director job is open. 

DIVAS will meet Jan. 15. Linda Meeks, wellness coach, returns for a kick-start to a healthy 2021.

Business 911 will focus on community engagement at noon on Jan. 21 on the chamber’s Facebook page. The public can join and watch.

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