#DentonMeansBusiness

Relevance tops priority list at Mid-Year Review

October 24, 2017
Keeping the chamber relevant stimulated a narrative early by the organization’s top leadership for the Program Year that began April 1, 2017.  A number of key priorities were addressed in the first six months.  Their relevance to today’s business and professional community will be evaluated all year long.

The month of October marked the start of the second half of the 2017-18 Chamber Year.  During its regular October 19 meeting, the board of directors conducted a review and assessment of the first six months, as well as identified key priorities for the balance of the year.

Key early initiatives focused on securing adequate funding for selling groups specified in the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT Fund) contract with the City of Denton for the soon to be completed convention center; and, alternative revenue to help supplement the costs associated with the satellite visitor center.

Kim Phillips, the chamber’s vice president in charge of the Denton Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB), reported that the City Council had approved $1.3 million for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2018. The pending budget included $240,000 for travel and targeting resources to support a new full-time groups and conventions sales person, which is approximately $23,000 over the current allotment.

In addition, she pointed out that the visitor center had generated $137,000 in local-oriented merchandise sales and area advertising revenue to help cover operational costs.  The City of Denton H.O.T. Fund allocation picks up a portion of the lease and employee compensation.  The 2018 CVB Budget estimates $160,000 in gross revenue from net consignments and advertising.

The Discover Denton Welcome Center is located on the south side of the downtown square and officially opened in June 2015.  The original concept and business plan for the visitor center was based on the graduation project of the 2012 Class of Leadership Denton.
Phillips noted that the visitor center is unique in that the CVB now owns DentonRadio.Com, which is housed there and features primarily local musicians, as well as a bi-weekly program which began April 1 highlighting chamber projects, events and services.

Orlando Hinojosa, General Chair of the 2018 Leadership Denton Class, described the current graduation project which is to research and propose transportation options for providing access for visitors at the convention center to the downtown square and other local shopping and entertainment venues.  The Leadership Class project will be publicly unveiled on April 5.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SCORE CARD

The board was updated on a pilot project of the chamber’s Economic Development Department for tracking and rating marketing efforts.

Chamber staff reviewed documented sources associated with leads which resulted in establishing viable prospect files and subsequent construction and improvement projects since 2014.  Of particular interest was $523,469  in gross ad valorem tax revenue generated with the landing of the Winco Foods Distribution Center and expansion of Victor Technologies.

Funded predominantly by a separate contract with the Denton City Council and Denton Municipal Electric, the board was advised that $68,500 in additional marketing revenue had been raised as of October 1 from a select group of chamber members.

Private Economic Development Investors will receive a separate more detailed report in a special briefing on November 13.

REPURPOSE THE EXISTING CHAMBER BUILDING

April 1 also marked the beginning of a new 5-Year Organizational Strategic Plan.  Following a series of focus group sessions, involving 43 different individuals, the board adopted the new 5-Year cycle on March 30.

A paramount consensus developed through the focus groups was to retain and “repurpose” the existing chamber building.  Located on City of Denton property at the corner of Carroll Boulevard and Parkway Street since 1975, the current chamber office is completely paid for, but, in need of expansion and significant improvements.

Part of the original long-range plan, adopted in 1993, the addition of an elevator to provide access to the second floor was identified by the board as a top priority.  By design, the location of the building was predicated on equal geographic positioning to both Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas, as well as the Denton central business district.

Acknowledged as the “Front Door to the Community,” the chamber office functions as a full-time, year-round relocation and referral service.  The chamber information desk is naturally supplemented by electronic access, with the organization’s multi-affiliate web site registering just over a 90 percent increase in “searches” on its membership directory for the same six-month period in 2016.

Chamber staff reported that as of September 30, 2017, the information desk had distributed 378 Destination Denton magazines, responded 107 residential relocation requests, including direct service to 471 walk-ins and answering 1,716 phone calls.  Combining personal inquiries, web site and social media, the Denton Chamber provided assistance to over one million inquiries from all over the world.

Initial estimates for basic upgrades and renovation have been secured for the chamber facilities, and, the Executive Committee agreed to review, evaluate and prioritize the needs for consideration by the full board.

RELEVANCE TO THE NEXT GENERATION

Another major goal in the Five-Year Strategic Plan scheduled for immediate action is to identify needs and issues of the next generation of potential chamber members.

A Leadership Denton graduation project from 2010 noted that the average age of Denton tends to be much younger, primarily as a result of the two local universities.  Conducting business transactions has also expanded beyond traditional brick and mortar establishments.

Innovational production and purchasing procedures, combined with the continued specialization of area creative groups has resulted in competition in the form of increased trade associations.

While no specific initiatives were designated, the board agreed that one of the main focuses of the next six months should remain on determining how to keep the Denton Chamber relevant to not only its existing members, but, developing a structure that is attractive to and viable for future professionals.

2018-19 CHAMBER YEAR

The current chamber year will conclude on March 31, 2018.  While the board agreed that significant strides were made in the first half; the bar was set for even loftier achievements for the remaining six-months. 

No doubt, the chamber year beginning April 1, 2018 will require a visionary approach, with emphasis on not just number of membership accounts and events sponsorships, but, a feasible foundation for continuing to be relevant to the local business community
 
Board Chair-Elect Erik Clark has scheduled the annual board planning retreat for Friday, February 2.  More details will be available soon, but, interest members are invited to participate.
 
Contact:
Chuck Carpenter, President
dcoc@denton-chamber.org, (940) 382-9693