We've rang in the new year, reminisced over the previous year's highlights and inevitable low points and made our resolutions (whether or not we stick to them remains to be seen). In business, it seems as though we make resolutions too, though we call them goals, objectives, and projects. And as the resolutions that we make as individuals sometimes are quickly forgotten, the goals we set for our own businesses and organizations are sometimes set aside for what appears to be bigger and better ideas. As I reflect on 2012, the single biggest endeavor that I've had the opportunity to embark upon is my role at the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce. In taking the lead at the Chamber, I've been able to spend the last four months contemplating our goals, resolutions and the future for our member businesses and organizations and the greater Williamstown and Northern Berkshire area. I assure you, I certainly don't (and can't) do it alone! I have a dedicated board of directors and community partners that have assisted me along the way. Just as I rely heavily on the support of others to meet my goals, our businesses and organizations rely on each other. A major initiative that I've implemented includes building stronger partnership within our community. When I look at my listing of Chamber members, I am impressed with the variety of membership: for-profit businesses including restaurants, hotels, retail stores, service industries, realtors, banks, craftsmen and women, attorneys, accountants;
non-profit organizations that provide direct service, education, healthcare, community services. And the list goes on. The partnerships that I'm most interested in fostering growth within include those between the for-profit and non-profit members. Depending upon whom I mention this to, I generally receive two responses: "Oh, you feel bad for the non-profit because they have tight budgets" or "The for-profits have cash to spend." In reality, neither of these statements is true. Sure, I am altruistic in philosophy and deed, probably not any more than any of you are, but I don't think that the for-profit businesses are a cash cow with piles of disposable money either. Strengthening the relationships between these entities is mutually beneficial. In fact, I think the greater benefit spills into our entire community. For instance, I'm working with a local non-profit human service organization and a for-profit restaurant to build a relationship that wouldn't have normally existed. The organization will benefit from having a fundraising event at the restaurant. In turn the restaurant will benefit from the business and possibly gain future customers. Also, they're able to show their commitment to their community. I know, it all seems so easy, why am I putting such an emphasis on it? Often times, the most obvious relationships that should exist, don't. Our non-profit businesses have gotten a bad rap by some, the some that assume non-profit equates to saying they have "no money." However, these organizations employ local people, utilize local goods and services and put money back into our local economy. In the same way, for-profit businesses don't want to be seen as an endless opportunity for donations, but they do realize the benefit of supporting their local non-profits because it will lead to their own greater growth. And look at that, we see growth for the greater community. I told you that would happen. So in keeping with the spirit of resolutions, goals, initiatives, I'm happy to note that this column is another new endeavor for 2013. While the topic of bridging the non-profit and for-profit world is the focus for this column, I'm interested in offering the Chamber's perspective on many topics. I'm hopeful that you, as the reader, will send some topics of interest to me so that I can consider them for the column.