1What is a "chamber of commerce"?
A chamber of commerce is an organization of businesses seeking to further their collective interests, while advancing their community, region, state or nation. Business owners in towns, cities and other territories voluntarily form these local societies/networks to advocate on behalf of the community at large, economic prosperity and business interests. Chambers have existed in the US for more than two centuries, with many having been established before the jurisdictions they represent.
The Willoughby Western Lake County
Chamber of Commerce is a strong network of more than 550 diverse businesses and organizations. Our members include big and small, traditional and pioneering, and tech-savvy and creative businesses and nonprofit organizations. The Chamber works to support entrepreneurs, encourage innovation and promote economic growth in the Western Lake County region. We offer networking and educational events and provide support for public policies and more.
2How would the chamber help my business?
It would depend on what your specific business needs are. If you're a small company, networking, marketing, and visibility options would help bring you face-to-face with your potential customer base. For medium to large sized businesses, legislative advocacy as well as professional development provide value.
3Is the chamber part of the city government?
No, the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce is a totally separate and independent organization. We are a 501c(6), which means that we are a non profit organization; however, we operate as an association versus a charitable organization.
Our chamber does work closely with elected officials in all the areas that we serve. We also work to provide our members with opportunities to meet with and connect with local officials.
4Do I have to be a member to attend a chamber event?
We offer our potential members the opportunity to try out a chamber event to see what we are all about. We find that most people who come to our events end up joining right away!
If you are interested, you may attend up to 2 chamber events as a non-member. After that point, we welcome you to join the chamber of commerce to enjoy all the events we hold year round to help you grow your business network.
5What if I am a small business owner and cannot attend many events?
Our staff will gladly sit down with you to discuss your options!
The goal of our event planning committee to to provide a wide variety of opportunities for members to network. Our chamber hosts events in the mornings, mid day, and evening hours to accommodate a wide variety of schedules.
Even if you cannot join us for many networking events, your business will still reap benefits from your membership! Your business will be listed on the chamber website with a click to your business page. You will also receive a listing in a special insert in the annual September issue of Cleveland Magazine. In addition to these powerful marketing pieces, your business can take advantage of major discounts that will make your membership very valuable.
6How do membership dues work?
We have an annual investment due each year that begins at $200. The investment per year is based on the number of employees that you have. Your membership investment is due each year on your anniversary of joining the chamber.
Below are the details on annual investment:
1 employee: $220
2 - 5 employees: $230
6 - 10 employees: $250
11 - 25 employees: $275
26 - 50 employees: $300
51 - 100 employees $425
101 - 150 employees: $500
151 - 300 employees: $625
301 - 500 employees: $900
501 - 1,000 employees: $1450
1001 + employees: $2000
Municipality, Library, or School: $200
Civic Member: $50
7What geographic area do you represent?
Our chamber of commerce serves the following communities:
If your business is located in or serves these communities, we want to meet you!
8How can my company gain exposure through the chamber?
There are many ways the Chamber can help spread your message. Here are just a few ideas.
* Sponsor events or programs
* Attend networking sessions or present at educational sessions
* Advertise in our chamber e-newsletter or on our website
* Exhibit at one of our annual EXPO's
* Participate in discounted media buys
* Tag us in your Facebook or Twitter posts
These are just a few ideas. We have more and would love to brainstorm with you. Just contact us to start the conversation today!
9Is my membership fee tax deductible?
As a business expense, yes it is. Feel free to check with your CPA or tax provider for more information.
10I want to attend functions but just cannot get away at lunchtime...
Good news! The Chamber has a wide variety of options available to you!
Before work, after work, or at lunchtime…networking events are scheduled at a variety of times to accommodate the needs of your schedule.
We offer “Business After Hours” at 5:00 pm as well as “Coffee Networking” events in the morning.
11Can the Chamber help or point me in the direction of how I can obtain some financial assistance with continuing education or training costs for me or my employees?
YES we can! The Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce has a one-of-a-kind program that allows you to apply for educational grants on a quarterly basis.
It’s easy to apply and receiving only one grant is usually more than a company’s annual dues!
We also have county resources we can share with you that might be able to assist you with financing.
12How can I entice other members to patronize my business?
The Member-to-Member Discounts program allows members to submit a discount that is made available to other members via our website. All members are encouraged to patronize other members’ businesses first, before going outside the network and Membership is a great way to incentivize others to look to your business first.
Chamber members are also given ample opportunities to network with other members and promote their services, and members often provide internal referrals for other members.
13Is it mandatory that I attend luncheons, after hours, etc? Sometimes my schedule just won’t allow for it.
There is no mandatory requirement for attendance. In order to make your membership more valuable, it’s best if you try to attend at least a few of the functions, however you may also send another key employee in your place to represent your business at any Chamber function.
Remember, networking is one of the main reasons businesses join so make the time to make those connections and get your business more visibility!
14Does the Chamber offer any kind of educational programs for me or my employees?
We most certainly do! Most of our monthly luncheons involve a speaker that provides tips and information on various topics that will help you in your business.
In addition, our annual Lake County wide Business to Business Expo hosted by all three Lake County Chambers of Commerce and Lakeland Community College provides a wide range of informative business workshops for businesses seminars.
15The cost of providing affordable health insurance to my employees and finding an affordable worker’s compensation program have me at the end of my rope—can the Chamber provide a solution for this problem that so many of us business owners are experiencing?
YES we can! Through Anthem and CompManagement Sedgwick many of our members have found the group discounts to be the solution that they were looking for. Just contact the office for the names of our reps and the member agents who handle these programs.
16I do a lot of mailings to my customer list but between rising postage costs and the annual cost of having our own Bulk Permit stamp, it’s not so affordable to reach my clients this way—can the Chamber help?
The Chamber has its own Bulk permit stamp that any member is welcome to use in place of paying the annual bulk mail permit fee (which is approximately $200 annually!) All you need to do is to call the office and reserve the use of the stamp, come in and pick it up along with a letter of permission from us that authorizes you to use it and sign a form agreeing to return it to us within the designated time.
And with the bulk permit you are paying a reduced fee for postage which saves you additional dollars!
17Advertising costs have really skyrocketed over the past few years—does the Chamber offer any affordable methods of advertising my business?
Absolutely! Each member receives a FREE listing on our website Business Directory, and our site draws a lot of interest! Individuals in the community often search our directory when looking for a credible company, and your directory listing is also included in our new mobile app. Whether you choose to sponsor a luncheon, run a banner ad on our websites, or become a Chamber Newsletter and E-Blast sponsor, there are advertising options for any budget and audience! Your business can also choose to sponsor any of our larger Chamber events, like the annual Willoughby ArtsFest, Golf Outing, or Turkey Bowl! Call our office at 440-942-1632 to learn more about advertising rates and options.
Are there any other cost saving programs the Chamber of Commerce offers? Many! However, one that most of our members use are office supplies. The Chamber of Commerce receives special low discounts for Chamber members with Office Depot/Office Max. Save on copying services, copy machine ink, technology equipment, furniture and more!