Editor’s note: This is the last of four stories outlining the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce 2019-21 Strategic Plan.
The Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan outlines proposals for improving Chamber value for longtime investors while enticing new ones through programming.
“I think it’s just right now, really trying to show the public that it’s a new day in the Chamber,” Chamber President/CEO Tara Watson-Watkins said. “I’ve always heard the Chamber is the good old boys club, but it’s the good old girls club now. It’s 100% female staff. So it’s just a new day at the Chamber and we want people to know we value your investment.”
Watson-Watkins said “beefing up” what services the Chamber has to offer will bring investors back into the fold and show other businesses what they have to gain by joining.
“That’s my goal, for people to understand the value of coming to a Chamber University Series event, a Business After Five, get plugged in — come to a Women’s Networking Luncheon,” she said. “We just want to give people a comfortable environment to be able to learn. … We try to have fun at all of our events. But we don’t want you to walk away feeling like you did nothing but waste your time there.”
The last section of the plan focuses on improving the Young Professionals network.
The organization runs through the Chamber, and Watson-Watkins said she recognizes the need to make the network more educational so that young professionals are gaining more than just connections from the experience.
“I was part of YPN in Dallas. It was a totally different organization,” she said. “But they brought in so many incredible speakers. … But we need to take that concept and bring it to our level, so people understand that they’re not just going out to drink wine or beer with their buddies and hanging out after five. We want to make sure we’re giving you something for the money.”
Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown and Angelina County Judge Don Lymbery taught the Young Professionals network about city and county government. They also gave condensed versions of the state of the city and county speeches they gave at the start of the year at the First Friday luncheons.
“And it had a great response, something we’ll definitely do again,” Watson-Watkins said. “We need to make sure with YPN, we’re not just having fun, but that yes, we’re trying to get people plugged in. It’s something the manufacturers tell you about. There are so many people not from here that say, ‘I’m here and there’s nothing to do.’”
As part of this growth, the Chamber is ramping up their email program, creating events on Facebook and reaching out to companies that hire younger workers.
“I think we have to do a better job at letting people know what we’re doing,” she said. “I’m going to start writing a blurb in BusinessLink because we know it doesn’t just go to Chamber investors, it goes out to the public who gets the paper. ... I’m going to do a better job at making sure our communities know exactly what we’re working for you.
‘‘We don’t work for us, we work for Angelina County.”