The newly appointed chairman of the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce says the same thing most others associated with the organization do: get members active.

The newly appointed chairman of the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce says the same thing most others associated with the organization do: get members active.

And Ryan Fry, the 2010 chairman, means it. Especially when it comes to himself.

On the board for four years now, Fry is now its chairman, its spokesperson and the person usually giving the introductory speeches.

“It’s been a good four years, and we’re coming out on top,” Fry said, a week before the chamber’s annual banquet – where he’ll give a speech about the previous and upcoming year.

Aside from the many personnel and management changes, Fry views 2009 as the year the chamber changed direction toward a more positive image.

“The number one goal last year and for year’s upcoming is increasing the membership, but also being relevant and respected within the community,” he said.

Currently the chamber’s membership is about 387, an increase from last year but far from where they want to be. To attract new members in 2009, the chamber rolled out some new programs and incentives.

“We’re trying to do things that attract and retain members,” Fry said. “We’re trying to address the question all prospective members ask – what’s in it for me?”

Beginning early last year, the chamber started making changes – from administrative titles to new features, including a new Web site loaded with features; a database system that would organize and arrange membership information

The site – www.bluespringschamber.com – is a gold mine of information, including a database for members, links to business sites, an interactive calendar, biographical information and job postings.

The success of Buy Blue Springs has attracted attention from current and prospective members.

“Buy Blue Springs was a concept that a member brought forward, and Lara Vermillion (president) told him to run with it, develop it,” he said. “It has a life of its own now.”

But Buy Blue Springs underscores something more important.

“I think that’s where the biggest change was last year – getting the members more involved.”

Other programs in the early planning stages include a youth internship meant to expose high school students to local employers and the opportunities there. In addition, the chamber launched the TGIF Government in Focus, a Friday morning event that has combined the legislative breakfast and presentations by representatives of the local school district, as well as updates on fire departments and EMS issues.

The chamber is also working to finish its application for national accreditation.

Fry said the chamber is also looking to replicate a service similar to what the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce does for its members – offering a route to a health insurance plan for members.

“It’s something we’re working on,” he said.

 

If you go:

What: The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet

Where: Adams Pointe Conference Center, 1400 N.E. Coronado Drive, Blue Springs

When: Tomorrow night. Social hour begins at 6 p.m.

What happens: Awards will be given for Outstanding Citizen 2009, Business and Business person of the Year. There will also be a silent auction, with proceeds going to the scholarship program.

For more information: Call 816-229-8558