Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chamber reps visit D.C. to promote local issues, thank legislators

16 Chamber members and staff have just returned from a visit to Washington D.C. to promote the Chamber's 2009 Legislative Agenda during visits with U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and U.S. Representative John Boozman.

The group thanked Lincoln and Boozman for opposing the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, or “Card Check.” (More information is available at , or visit or ).

Many small businesses are not familiar with this dangerous legislation, or believe that it only impacts "big business and industry," not understanding its potential effect on small businesses. Visit the websites above for details!

While in D.C., the Chamber delegation met with all three legislators and covered additional topics of interest to the Chamber including the Bella Vista Bypass and other transportation projects, workers’ compensation, Mark to Market, and the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority. While in town, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provided a briefing on transportation, health care, labor and international trade, and the group also participated in activities organized by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Support our restaurants (so we can keep them)!

We have been so fortunate (ok, deliberate) in attracting world-class dining establishments ranging from well-known national chains to unique local restaurants to our community. But if we want to keep all this variety, we have to put our money where our mouths are, or maybe our forks...

With that in mind, we've been working at the Chamber on a new BuyNWA initiative to support our member restaurants, which we'll officially launch on May 1. (Not familiar with BuyNWA? Visit!)

1. We will mail and e-mail lists of member restaurants to our members and make them available to the public via our website and social media to as a reminder of our community's vast choices. These lists will reach more than 2,010 member businesses through our monthly newsletter (4,200 recipients) and weekly e-mail (2,750 recipients).

2. We will prominently feature restaurant lists on our websites and social media. The public asks us where to eat – we want to help them find restaurants throughout our community!

3. Best of all, we will promote and distribute electronic and printed coupons for our member restaurants at no charge to you! To participate, visit the Members Only section of or contact Shelle Summers (479.619.3187 or

In addition, look for our Ambassadors About Town dining monthly as a group at member restaurants (don't worry, they’ll call ahead). We are truly excited about the potential benefit to our restaurants, and encourage you to support them! Let us know what you think.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grow Your Business Without Spending Money and Time!

Sound too good to be true? Wait until you see what we have up our sleeves for our member businesses to help you survive and thrive in this economy. We understand that as much as you’d like to attend seminars and attend networking events, it’s hard to justify leaving your business to grow your business. We get it!

In 2008, we launched BuyNWA, an initiative to support local businesses and stimulate the economy (visit for more information). We promised phase two of BuyNWA in early 2009… here it is! We’ve launched half a dozen FREE new for our member businesses:

1. $$ BusinessConnect Tool
We receive dozens of requests from individuals seeking catering, printing, meeting space, you name it. Now those bids and requests will be online so YOU can respond! Members and the public may fill out the BusinessConnect Request on,
and requests are posted on our website and e-mailed to appropriate member businesses! For more information:

Member AID Videos
No matter how much you’d love to attend our seminars to help your business, you can’t leave your business to attend, right? Soon you’ll be able to view online videos on advertising seminars, workshops and technology to benefit your business - stay tuned!

Member News
You’ve got exciting news, and you want to tell our other 2,010 member businesses! Let everyone know about a new office, an open house or a prestigious award! Member News updates are posted online, and links are sent to our 2,750 weekly e-mail recipients. For more information on submitting news or to read current news:

4. LinkedIn
Use the fastest-growing online professional network in the world to build your business and show your credibility – link to the Rogers-Lowell Chamber profile! People are more likely to do business with chamber members, and you can benefit from our connections! Members, join our group here:

5. Twitter
It’s a little cutting edge, but the possibilities are endless. Follow the Chamber’s “tweets” on Twitter, and stumble on new connections and ideas in the process! Trust us, you have to try it to understand it!

6. Chamber Blog
Wait, you're already onto this! Follow informal, conversational posts on our newest efforts and ideas through the Rogers-Lowell Chamber blog. What’s in it for you? Up-to-the-minute information and a chance to give us feedback on what works, and what else you need to succeed!

That was a lot to process, wasn’t it? Don’t worry if you’re confused or overwhelmed – we promise, it’s all easier than it sounds! Just call us and we will (slowly!) walk you through all of these new membership tools. We’re also offering free workshops to explore these topics. For more information, contact Beth Stephens (479.619.3192 or

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Completing your to-do list without lifting a finger...

Please excuse us as we try (in vain) to control our enthusiasm about our new BusinessConnect Tool! Seriously, it is a fantastic resource for our member businesses and the general public!

Here's the gist of it: businesses and individuals can save time by posting requests online, and member businesses will respond directly to you to give you bids, estimates or provide the services requested! This delivers excellent opportunities for member businesses to drive sales, and Chamber staff monitor requests and responses from member businesses to ensure timeliness.

It's truly painless. Just visit the Business Directory on (While you're there, be sure to check out the category listing of all our member businesses as well as the e-coupons!) Click on "Submit BusinessConnect Request" and put in all your wishes, and as soon as we receive it we will e-mail it to our members to respond. Trust us, you'll want to bookmark the page:

One of our staff members used the BusinessConnect tool for a printing quote on business cards for her husband's new venture. Within a couple of hours, they had detailed responses and quotes from five businesses, saving them dozens of phone calls. They commented on how impressed they were by the timely follow up on such a seemingly small request.

Examples of requests using BusinessConnect might include printing bids, catering for an event or open house, home services and repairs or a banquet or meeting facility.

Pretty cool, huh? We have always been proud of our ability to generate so many inquiries and potential business connections for our members, but this takes the "potential" part right out and leads to direct business opportunities. Love it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ready to stimulate the economy?

We have a theory at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. Prepare yourself: it is a little bit Pollyanna-ish. We honestly believe that local action can affect big change. Take the economy as a starting point: can we change it across America tomorrow? Probably not. Can we stimulate positive changes that help local businesses and, in turn, serve as the first steps toward national (and international) recovery? Absolutely.

Step 1: Good news. It's out there, but you have to listen carefully to find it with all the rhetoric and background noise. Here's a start: mortgage rates are lower than the nation has seen in decades, and can potentially place dollars in consumers' pockets resulting in spending, which could in turn jump start the economy. Need more good news to get your motor running?

Try this: we are seeing significant inquiries at the Rogers-Lowell Chamber and throughout the community related to small business start-ups, job creation and economic development prospects. Our region's growth may have slowed with the housing market crisis and other economic stressors, but Northwest Arkansas is still a growing, nationally-competitive place to do business (and enjoy life and raise a family). Case(s) in point:

1. Cryovac, Inc. - a subsidiary of Sealed Air Corporation in Rogers - announced 21 - 24 new jobs thanks to a business expansion last month, with a total economic impact for our community of more than $1.5 million.

2. Don's Cold Storage and Transportation in Rogers is adding more than 20 competitive jobs with an expansion representing more than $7 million in economic impact for our community.

3. Enformix Technology Services will move 40 jobs to Historic Downtown Rogers upon completion of upgrades to its new facility. The company is expert in IT strategy development and information technology, particularly in the field of long-term care.

4. NWA ranked #4 on Forbes list of best places for business and careers: Make no mistake: the heading is Fayetteville, but one glance at the population listed makes clear that these are accolades for Northwest Arkansas, and every one of our sister cities in the region has cause to celebrate!

Don't misunderstand - it's still tough in the current economic climate, and many businesses are struggling and will continue to struggle well into the coming months. But it feels good to dwell on the positive for a moment, doesn't it?

Step 2: Marketing. Whatever your position, whatever your business - it's critical. The best analogy would be Promote or Die, to adapt a line from a Chamber long-termer. When the economy contracts and things are tight, it's human nature to curtail expenses, but for the good of your business, don't irrationally cut marketing, promotion and advertising expenditures. It has often been said that those who strike while the iron is hot or, in this case, advertise in a down economy while their competitors are cutting back, have the best opportunity to thrive.

If you find yourself and your business in a situation where you have to cut back, by all means don't hide in your cave. As members of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce or any other good chamber, you can still capitalize on dozens of free opportunities to market your business at no charge through business-building networking events. It will still require an investment on your part, but of time and not cash. That's time well well spent if it helps your business, isn't it?

Thanks for reading - share your good news, and be sure to connect with the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce to share your comments and feeback. Find us on LinkedIn ( and Twitter (@RLACC) and give us your two cents!