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Economic Development
Aug 16, 2019

Advocacy: The Heart of the Chamber

Sponsored Content provided by Natalie English - President & CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

The word “advocate” is at the heart of all initiatives at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. A chamber’s role in the community is to be the voice of business, and we work hard every day to fulfill that role. The first critical success strategy defined in the Wilmington Chamber strategic plan, working toward realization of our vision to position our community for prosperity by encouraging business growth, is to “Be the Effective Business Advocate.”  
 
Advocacy is defined as the act of speaking on behalf of, or in support of, another person, place, or thing. We all are advocates at different points in our lives. We advocate on our own individual behalf at our workplaces, schools, in our personal relationships, and in simple, everyday interactions. We advocate with a car repair shop to give us a better price on the set of tires we need. We, as parents, advocate for our children, so they receive the best education possible. Non-profit organizations have staff who advocate on behalf of entire populations who may not have the reach to advocate for themselves. Advocacy can happen in many ways and with many different groups.
 
So, what does it mean to “Be the Effective Business Advocate?” The Wilmington Chamber speaks on behalf, and in support, of businesses and business owners in the Wilmington region. Putting this into practice, let’s look at who we advocate with, how we do it, and the impact businesses have on the community because of advocacy.
 
The chamber advocates with units of government, staff and elected officials, to adopt policies that encourage business growth. Effectively, there are three types of issues that involve the chamber’s vision:

  1. Governmental policies and availability of resources that impact the cost of doing business.
  2. Policies that affect the ease of doing business. For example, policies that require extensive paperwork or redundant information gathering.
  3. Quality of life issues. The people who run businesses care about the environment. They know that to attract and retain a workforce, we must have access to art and culture, sports and athletic outlets, beautiful natural resources, and a quality education system.
The chamber also advocates with the community at-large on behalf of business. For example, ribbon cutting ceremonies call attention to new businesses and provide opportunities for community outreach. We highlight business success in chamber communications by celebrating anniversaries, accolades, and new members. Business owners and leaders are able to advocate for themselves at our events by making meaningful connections with members of the community.
 
We make it our mission to help citizens understand that along with governmental entities, educational institutions, and healthcare organizations, businesses employ and mold our community workforce. Businesses pay taxes that fund the needs of our community. Businesses purchase products and services from other businesses, indirectly employing more people.
 
It is clear businesses give back to the community through economic growth. Businesses also give back through donations and community service. United Way of the Cape Fear Area announced recently that businesses and their employees committed over $2 million in 2019. That is above and beyond the over $1 million that was committed by businesses and their employees in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence less than one year ago. There are hundreds of nonprofit organizations in our community doing great work that raise their funds from businesses and their employees. For example, every year for Work on Wilmington, hundreds of people volunteer their time to beautify and improve our community. Some of them do that work at the encouraging of the businesses that employ them.
 
The businesses in our community are worthy of our advocacy and support, and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is proud to serve as the effective business advocate. We invite you to join us to advocate for the businesses in our community along with the infrastructure, tax climate and quality of life that makes us attractive for businesses and the people they employ.
 
Want to get involved? Visit wilmingtonchamber.org to learn more about our vision and how you can be a part of it.

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is the largest membership-based business association in Southeastern North Carolina. The Chamber’s mission is to ensure economic prosperity throughout our region. This is accomplished by: creating a diverse, inclusive organization that serves as a strong voice for businesses in the Greater Wilmington area; offering unique membership benefits, services and education; and challenging government officials to address long-term community and business interests.

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