Goodbye 2016 – Message from our Chair

With the end of 2016 fast approaching, I feel it is time to reflect on the year we have had as a Chamber, what we have achieved and our expectations for the new year.

Chamber Website

Our biggest priority this year by far, was our new website. At the beginning of the year we planned and released our new website that you see today, and using it as a virtual directory to showcase our members, to create a place where our community as a whole could visit and locate local businesses.  We are extremely proud of our new website which has been operational for over 6 months and has gaining great momentum and SEO results. Thank you to Daniel Cook of Dynamic Consultants who has worked tirelessly to get the website working and looking great…which I’m sure you’ll all agree.

Administration & Accounts

We have also revamped our administration processes, mainly our membership payments which has included different ways members can pay for membership. We now have internet banking so can accept BACS, cheque and cash. Card payments can be made using PayPal merchant services.  We have implemented a cloud-based accounting system, this gives us an effective and professional auditable system for managing money as it comes in.  Joanne Jackson our Treasurer works very hard to get your payments and invoices processed; thank you Jo for all your hard work!

Joining is now easier too! We have an easy to use membership application process; a simple form and a clear process of what we do to process the application.  Data is also safe as we are registered with the Data Protection Act.  In order to comply with the rules we hold everything on an SSL secure website.

Business Support

Working with Ignite Business Enterprise, we set up a scheme for new business startups; this has proved very successful with several businesses joining as part of the scheme and benefitting from the great support on offer. I personally see this as a fundamental part of Witham’s growth, and hope this scheme continues to be a success. Anyone wanting to or thinking of starting thier own business should get in touch and use this sheme to help them.

Networking Group

We have set up networking events for businesses to get together which is resulting in businesses working together, supporting our shop local ethos.

Press Exposure

You may have noticed our presence in the press!

We are out there promoting, support and being a voice for businesses in our town. We have supported some recent business openings, helped with issues and have given marketing support and advice. We’ve also liaised with Priti Patel and our Town Council to get the support where needed when needed and used their kudos to promote our town.

Community Support

We sponsored a meeting recently with Essex Police at the Witham Public Hall. Attendees were given the opportunity to provide feedback and it showed how efforts to support for the town. It also supported our friends at the Witham Town Team with the installation of a 24/7 access defibrillator unit in the Newland Shopping Centre.

Annual General Meeting

At our AGM in October, I was voted in for another term.  I would personally like to thank you all for having the confidence in me to head up the group for another year and am thrilled to be working with Daniel, our new vice-chair and the rest of the committee.

We had a plan at the beginning of the year to grow the Chamber and by mid year we aspired to get to 100 members by Christmas.  We are all volunteers and run the chamber because we want to help businesses so we were so proud to achieve this in mid November! This had never been done in the Chambers over 60 year history and was made possible by the dedication of the committee and the hard work that they have done to make the chamber a success; thank you for supporting me and on behalf of the members for all you hard work!

Thank you all

All in all it has been a busy year.  We have some amazing plans for 2017 and have some surveys coming out soon to give you a chance to tell us what you think, and ask you what you would be interested in us doing, so please watch out for them and help us by completing them.

So, it leaves me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year, and I thank you for being a part of our continued success and growth!

All the best,
Tina Townsend
Chamber Chair