Miami chamber seeks $750,000 in membership drive
By Tom Harlan
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is looking to raise $750,000 during a two-month membership drive that begins today (1/20).
The campaign, to start with an event at Parrot Jungle Island, is to focus on attracting new members and encouraging existing members to upgrade, officials said.
The chamber hopes to attract businesses that have not linked with the community and plans a push for Broward County businesses connected with Greater Miami, said Barry Johnson, the chamber's executive vice president of marketing and communications.
The chamber has about 2,000 member companies and 7,000 volunteers, Mr. Johnson said.
The chamber's previous campaign, from mid-October to early November, raised $100,000, according to chamber statistics.
More than 12 teams with different membership targets based on their industry background and experience with the chamber are to recruit members, said Mark Trowbridge, campaign co-chairman.
The teams are to meet weekly through early March and update the chamber on their progress, he said.
The campaign, dubbed Back to the Future, is focused on informing prospects how the chamber works to be the voice of business, Mr. Trowbridge said.
Chamber chairman Allen Harper said he expects the organization's best campaign in four to five years. The fallout from 9/11 and problems with the chamber's staff weighed down the chamber in recent years, he said.
Former employees of the chamber were arrested last month in connection with the theft of $1.9 million from the chamber. The chamber also had two rapid changes in presidents before George Foyo settled in.
Chamber officials launched a new strategic plan and made several staff additions last year.
"We recruited topnotch people," Mr. Harper said. "We have the best people in the marketplace to turn all of this around."
Key hires in international economic development and advocacy and a new devotion to membership services are paying off, he said.
The chamber's advocacy group, under Rana Brown, has tripled the number of members involved in meetings and has planned two missions to Tallahassee with the Broward Alliance, he said.
Mr. Johnson said the chamber has had high member enthusiasm since the fall campaign. Officials expect to continue to gain members as they enhance membership value, he said.
Mr. Harper said members of the business community are excited that chamber membership has evolved into more than just a great networking opportunity. Members, he said, now get educational opportunities such as an upcoming luncheon on the Florida citrus industry and exposure to international markets with their membership.
"It's been a rebirth of energy and enthusiasm," Mr. Harper said. "And it's been contagious. We think it's going to pay off in the membership drive over the next 60 days."