Chamber retention drive a success

In the midst of a pandemic, the Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce is exceeding expectations for its annual membership renewal drive.

Chamber president Ralph Staffins III said 87 percent of last year’s members have renewed their annual membership. The national average for renewal of chamber memberships is 85 percent, he said.

And the renewal drive is not over.

“We beat the national average in a pandemic year,” he said.

Instead of one person being responsible for the annual membership drive, Staffins said it was a group effort with the entire chamber staff because of the limitations with face-to-face meetings.

“The whole team worked on retention,” he said.

Staffins said the renewal drive has been successful because members have seen the value of chamber services offered since the COVID-19 outbreak struck the Golden Isles earlier this year.

The chamber quickly adapted after the outbreak by offering a variety of new programs to help promote local businesses and create an online portal to help match the unemployed with potential employers.

“They appreciate what we did during the pandemic,” Staffins said. “We worked very hard to show value and add value.”

The ongoing membership drive isn’t the only thing that exceeded expectations.

Last week’s Grits & Issues meeting at the Jekyll Island Convention Center attracted 15 percent more people than last year’s event, while enabling participants to safely social distance, Staffins said.

Outgoing state Sen. William Ligon and state Rep. Jeff Jones were also honored for their service in the General Assembly representing the region at the meeting.