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Examiner
  • Chamber to get active in public policy

  • The Independence Chamber of Commerce plans to increase its advocacy of public policy issues in Jefferson City, part of its renewed focus on responding to members’ needs and wishes.

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  • The Independence Chamber of Commerce plans to increase its advocacy of public policy issues in Jefferson City, part of its renewed focus on responding to members’ needs and wishes.
    “You’re going to see us get very active,” chamber President and CEO Kim Kimbrough said Wednesday.
    Kimbrough started on the job six months ago, and he said he held close to 100 one-on-one meetings – frank and confidential, he said – with chamber leaders and members, as well as other community leaders. It was an effort to hear that roles the chamber needs to play.
    “And I got some really good information,” he said at Wednesday’s monthly chamber luncheon.
    Kimbrough laid out five main areas of emphasis that came out of that process. No. 1, he said, is public policy advocacy, a departure from the chamber’s traditional role. Others were making the chamber the go-to place for “getting things done in Independence,” Kimbrough said, helping small business, educating chamber members and the broader community about what the chamber offers, and focusing on community events ranging from Santa-Cali-Gon Days to the annual Halloween parade.
    Kimbrough said the chamber got a late start on addressing issues in the 2013 General Assembly and has taken a stand on just one issue so far. Like chambers of many of the state’s larger cities, it has endorsed a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage as envisioned under President Obama’s health-care plan “because that is so critical to job retention here in Independence and the Eastern Jackson County area,” Kimbrough said.
    This summer, he said, the chamber will begin to canvass members and develop a more comprehensive list of legislative priorities for 2014.
    Kimbrough also walked through a long list of new initiatives, many designed to help small businesses.
    “The vast majority of members of this chamber are small businesses ... 10 employees or less,” he said.
    Among the programs he touched on:
    • “Tech-Connect Tuesdays,” one-hour events held once a month. The April 9 event, for example, is about the cloud, and May’s is “There’s an App for That.”
    • An electronic wedding services guide, promoting chamber members. Other guides, along those same lines, are to be added about once a year.
    • A “Doing Business with the Government” day to help businesses work through the rules and regulations of winning government contracts.
    • A monthly business leads exchange. “And you are guaranteed to leave with some additional leads, no matter what your business,” Kimbrough said.
    • The chamber also will be more active with social media. “You’re going to hear a lot from us,” Kimbrough said, “and get a lot from us.”
     
     

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