MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce is set to kick off the summer with the annual Kid’s Block Party event with the help…
MARYVILLE, Mo. — Looking to the future, the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce is focusing on the big picture and making small changes to inspire local business and enhance Maryville as a destination.
Last month the chamber gave its website a makeover to offer more services to business members and visitors looking for local business information.
“The website is one piece of a big picture that we have really taken on,” said Kaity Holtman, chamber board president. “The vision and mission is really where it started.”
The mission statement is: “To inspire a progressive, dynamic community through business and leadership development.”
She explained that the chamber organization was at a crossroads and needed not only to identify its identity, but also future plans. So, chamber board members went on a retreat last year to Conception Abbey and focused on what priorities and long-term goals for the chamber should be.
“We did some leadership training as a group,” said Holtman. “We have a board that functions very well together.”
Lily White, executive director of the chamber, said she thinks the hardest part of strategic planning is not creating ideas and goals, but coming back to the day-to-day minutiae that draws attention from the plan.
“The big point that we’re trying to drive home right now is making sure that now we have this strategic plan,” she said. “We have the mission and vision, now let’s live and breathe it every day.”
The website update serves many functions but one of the most time-saving is that the administration database now connects directly with the website and saves a lot of time for chamber employees.
“Before, the two weren’t speaking the same language,” Holtman said. “It was causing more work, which when it’s administrative things like that, (it) keeps you from moving toward the goals that you have.”
Holtman said a lot of what the chamber is working on is behind the scenes, so chamber members may be unaware of the changes.
One small example White offered is the website, www.maryvillechamber.com, has a directory of members. While the categories section is alphabetical, inside those categories are the listed businesses. Before the website update, those businesses also were listed alphabetically, which gave all the traffic to the top two or three results in the list.
Now, she said that list will change each time the page is opened or refreshed. This offers a fairer look at all local businesses, she said. The site tracks clicks from visitors to show those results.
White said another function the site can serve as is a local business’s web presence. Some business owners without a robust online presence can use the chamber site to offer their information.
“With this website, a member can go in and edit that listing,” Holtman explained. “Not just phone numbers, but real content. It can be what a member makes of it.”
There is a new mapping function which shows where the local businesses are within the community or state. This is useful for some businesses that aren’t located within city limits or easily located.
White explained that interns from Northwest Missouri State University are handling the upkeep on the new website, as well as the chamber’s social media sites.
“It’s going really well,” she said. “Our interns are doing really great.”
This week, the chamber will have its fourth intern start. White said the internship program is working so well that she hasn’t had to seek out new interns. As an intern graduates, they have begun connecting their classmates with the chamber.
“It’s working really well, by the time they leave … we create these relationships and bonds,” said White. “(They) have kind of created job aspirations based on their internships, which has been really cool to see.”
Last year, the old chamber directory website received 518,000 clicks just on businesses. White said they weren’t updating daily, whereas with the new website, they’re working on blogs and pushing content more often.
“For as much of a membership value it is, we saw it as an investment that is very much worth it,” said Holtman. “People who are visiting our community, who are moving to our community, who are nearby and want to do business in our community, a lot of them are landing at maryvillechamber.com and looking through those members. It adds a layer of credibility for businesses because they’re invested in the community.”