Jeanne Gregory

Business leaders recognized at Chamber dinner

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

Keynote speaker describes huge growth opportunities in store for Rockford Photos by TOM SCOTT The cost of the “Taste of Rockford” buffet at the annual Rockford Chamber of Commerce ceremony was likely the best dining deal members’ have ever experienced. The evening’s entertainment, included election of board members, an awards ceremony recognizing Business of Distinction and Business of the Year, and a humorous Year in Review. The restaurants who provided food and beverages included D&W Fresh Market, the Corner Bar, Jody’s Restaurant, Herman’s Boy, Epic, Polly’s Passions, the Gristmill, Twisted Vine, and Grill One Eleven. Dad’s Tents provided the linens and centerpieces for the tables. Floral arrangements were provided by Polly VonEschen. Andy Tidey, of the Corner Bar and Chamber Board member, announced he is leaving Rockford and moving his family out west. Businesses and individuals received recognition in a variety of categories with Blaine Kellermeier of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc. receiving the highest honor of Business of the Year. Other winners were Dan Biemer in the new category of Networker of the Year. Lynda Nance and Polly VonEschen tied in the category of Volunteer of the Year. Beth Altena, Managing Editor of the Rockford Squire newspaper was struck speechless at the announcement that the newspaper had earned the Business of Distinction Award in the Community Service category. Joel Koch of Bluegrass Promotional Marketing was recognized in the category of New Business. Keynote speaker Mike Guswiler, Executive Director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, touted the economic benefits of the sports complex which will be built in Plainfield Township off Ten Mile Road. He said there was “no better community than Rockford” for the sports venue. Hosting baseball, softball, cross country skiing, archery and more, the complex will be a boon in visitor spending and an economic engine for the greater Rockford area. Guswiler said a complex of similar size in a town comparable to Rockford made a huge difference in economic vitality. He said the sports complex there spurred the growth of three hotels to fifty hotels with an eighty-five percent occupancy rate. “It’s all about economic growth enhancing our quality of life.” The annual meeting, open to members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, was held at the American Legion banquet facility, 330 Rockford […]

Chamber U class gives business professionals strategic advantage

November 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) Executive Director Jeanne Gregory allowed her organization to serve as the example for a class on building a strategic business plan held Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Rockford Public Schools administrative offices. The class was led by Lynda Nance of Nance Business Solutions. “Whatever is wrong with your business, it’s your fault,” Nance stated, advice she often uses when consulting with business owners on how to improve their operations. She said she softens such blunt statements with the use of humor as she helps managers build a plan for improvement and success. The evening did include humor, but also serious discussion on developing a strategy any business owner or manager can use to promote success in their company. Step one, Nance explained, is a clear vision of a company’s purpose by creating a vision or mission statement. In the example of RCC, both a mission statement and vision have been created. RCC made an appropriate subject for study in the wake of the organization’s own strategic study. For RCC, the process was an intense, six-month job that was completed on November 1. The plan will lead the organization through the next three years and requires revisitation every 18 months. Members of the class took a short-cut version of the process during two hours of instruction, but were also advised that any strategic plan does need periodic review and adjustments as the company evolves. Step two, after developing a mission statement, is creating a SWOT evaluation: identifying Strengths and Weaknesses and Opportunities and Threats. Nance advised it is vital to include members of all levels of an organization, as well as customers and even vendors, to take part. “Who knows your weaknesses better than your customers?” she noted. She also stressed the importance of involving those at every level of the company, rather than from a stratified distance of management only. “If you just go to employees and tell them, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ they won’t be on board.” Third, develop “baseline metrics,” a measurable footprint of where your business is today. In the example of RCC, that could be the number of members. For others it could be a measure of the amount of business taking […]