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Progress 2013: Chamber amps up connections

In order to have a vibrant, growing area in which to live, progressive communities must have an organization like the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. Your chamber is a powerful team -- a team of members, volunteers and staff working together to constantly promote and sell our community to prospective residents, returning customers and business ventures.

To keep Hays a "city in motion," the chamber does all of the little details and tasks that must be done. For instance, we maintain an office devoted to commercial, civic and retail development. We coordinate the talents of local business people in addressing the basic issues of our member businesses promotion, development and employment. Plus, we pursue opportunities to enhance the overall quality of life, which helps attractive businesses and employees to our area.

Your chamber is as strong as the level of participation of the businesses and its members. The Hays Area Chamber is fortunate to have such an impressive level of support from our area businesses -- a 40-percent penetration rate is a powerful statement of how the chamber plays an important role in our business community. In 2013, we hope to increase these numbers, which in turn, provides an even more powerful connecting resource.

Each and every day, we at the chamber are planning, developing and designing opportunities for people to interact with others. We believe so strongly in the power of connection that we joke how our chamber is a grassroots marketing effort on steroids. Our theme for this year reflects this philosophy: "Connecting Business. Creating Commerce."

To better understand this philosophy-turned-theme, let's explore a quote borrowed from Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Black Book of Connections:

"All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people still want to do business with their friends."

In other words, regardless of whether the product is more expensive, the service is less desirable or the location is less convenient, people will choose to support their friends. This is the driving force behind your Chamber -- we want to be your No. 1 resource in turning those casual business acquaintances into solid friendships.

Besides the traditional networking activities and business promotion functions, we provide ample opportunity for you to meet and get better acquainted with others -- others who could become a contact, a customer or a friend. Whether it's a ribbon cutting, Chamber Chat or Business After Hours, these are great opportunities for you to build quality relations with others.

We are your Hays Area Chamber of Commerce -- please contact our office at the Welcome Center and let us help you connect business and create commerce.

Tammy Wellbrock is executive director of Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.