Brian's Blog - From Where I Stand...

In his blog, “From Where I Stand...”, Loveland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Brian Willms, shares his perspective on issues affecting business owners, entrepreneurs and employees residing and working in Northern Colorado. Tune into his bi-monthly blog to read Brian’s thoughts about local and statewide issues impacting our community, tips on increasing visibility for your business, and new Chamber classes designed to boost your business acumen. And, on a slightly more personal level, Brian promises to share his recommendations on books, blogs, podcasts, new marketing tools, as well as things to do in Loveland and beyond.


Northern Colorado: a Hub for the Modern Energy Movement!

Springtime is upon us; in fact many of the students in the area have just ended their spring breaks, initiating the countdown to the end of the school year. Spring is an exciting time for many and signifies a time for renewal as we watch the grass begin to green, the flowers bloom and the foliage return to the trees. With our days becoming longer and the temperatures warming it becomes obvious why Senator Gaylord Nelson selected this time of year for a nation to acknowledge its appreciation for the Earth. Earth Day is just around the corner being celebrated in the U.S. on April 22 and internationally celebrated tomorrow, March 22.

The imminent Earth Day has led me to reflect upon the exciting green developments happening in the Northern Colorado region. Northern Colorado has become a hub for what many refer to as the modern energy movement. The research and work done by many at Colorado State University (CSU) has become a catalyst for an array of emerging technologies and businesses like Abound Solar and Envirofit.

The research that led to the creation of Abound Solar was started in the 1980’s. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that the company was established as AVA Solar, producing the next generation of thin-film photovoltaic solar modules for large commercial installations. In 2007, AVA Solar changed its name to Abound Solar to better reflect the company’s belief in providing abundant energy. Today, Abound Solar (headquartered in Loveland, Colo.) has become a global leader in CdTe solar technology; the technology many experts believe is improving the efficiency and stability of solar energy. Abound Solar photovoltaic modules are designed for large-scale, grid-connected utilities. The company’s particular design has Abound Solar leading the way to the delivery of low-cost electricity.

Envirofit was developed from research conducted on two-stroke snowmobile engines at Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL). This research led to the development of a two-stroke engine that is now being retrofitted on the 100 million motorcycles, scooters and three-wheelers in Southeast Asia. Each of the older, carbureted two-stroke engines on these vehicles produces pollution equivalent to 50 modern automobiles. Envirofit’s work in Southeast Asia also led to the development of an economical, clean cook stove that is replacing the hundreds of millions of primitive stoves used today in Southeast Asia and in turn is significantly reducing emissions.

The incredible developments by companies like Abound Solar and Envirofit led to CSU creating a Clean Energy Supercluster program that has become a magnet for attracting larger businesses like Vestas the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world. These exciting developments in Northern Colorado point to a future with a renewed economy; an economy that is built upon manufacturing and creating products that can be sold globally. As this new cluster continues to develop with help of partners like CSU and the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation, I foresee the grass greening, the flowers blooming and foliage returning to the trees of our economy!

Best wishes,
Brian

Posted on March 21st, 2010 by Brian Willms

ART... Loveland's Other Unique Selling Proposition

A few weeks ago I shared a valuable statement from one of my college professors, “In business, it’s important to know the unique selling proposition of your product or service.” I went on to explain that one of Loveland’s greatest assets is in its name. I strongly asserted that as a community we should embrace the moniker established years ago, “The Sweetheart City,” as one of our unique selling propositions when we market ourselves to others. I also recognize that Loveland has another unique selling proposition – our nationally-ranked arts community.

Few communities can boast about the sculpture, the galleries, the foundries and art-based public school curriculum like Loveland can. Mix in the fabulous theaters, performing arts groups, musicians, graphic artists, literary artists, painters and so many others into Loveland’s unique recipe and you begin to understand why Loveland has been recognized as one of the “The 100 Best Art Towns in America” by John Villani.

As the driving force for business in Loveland, the Loveland Chamber has the responsibility to help stimulate our economy and work to maintain a positive business environment. To do that we need to capitalize on our community’s strengths. One of those strengths is our arts and the industry that has been built around it.

As much pride as Loveland residents take in our fabulous sculpture parks and the nation's largest outdoor sculpture shows, few people outside of Loveland recognize the city for the creative and cultural gifts we have offer. Unfortunately, Loveland is still often mistaken for the ski resort that is more than a hundred miles and two hours away. In fact, last year when U.S. News and World Report named Loveland as one of the 10 best places to live, they featured a picture of Loveland Pass. Why didn’t they show a picture of the Benson or Chapungu Sculpture Parks?

Our reputation as an arts community has gained national, mainstream attention, but we are still working to gain awareness among those already in the arts community. It is time for us as a community to work together to promote our arts and the wonderful gifts we have to share. We also have an opportunity to use our strength for economic development. In this issue of Aware, you’ll have the chance to learn more about a progressive and successful real estate development group called Artspace (artspace.org).

After reading Maryjo Morgan’s blog titled “Artspace Eyes Loveland,” I encourage you to complete the survey Artspace is conducting (you can do so by clicking here) and ask others to do the same. And while you are at it, tell them about Loveland and all the wonderful art we have to share!

Wishing you the best,
Brian

Posted on February 10th, 2010 by Brian Willms

Let's Embrace Who We Are... The Sweetheart City!

One of my college professors once told me, “In business, it’s important to know the unique selling proposition of your product or service.” He supported this statement by explaining the value of differentiating yourself from your competition so that your prospective customer understands what is different and special about what you have to offer. Applying the principle of a “unique selling proposition” over the years in my professional career has served me well. No matter what the product or service I was promoting and/or selling, I’ve always worked hard to identify its unique selling proposition and highlighted those benefits to my customers and clients to help them understand its value.

As the CEO for the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, one my key responsibilities is to help promote and sell Loveland. Like many others, I’ve found one of Loveland’s greatest assets to be in its in name. We reside, work and play in the “Land of Love.” There are very few other cities or communities that can tout such a special name, thus Loveland’s name naturally becomes its unique selling proposition. We are “The Sweetheart City”! We should embrace this moniker and capitalize on it. Our name gives us an opportunity that few others have, but like all tools it is only useful when utilized to its full potential.

Ted Thompson (onetime Loveland Chamber President) and Elmer Ivers (onetime Loveland Postmaster) certainly understood the opportunity Loveland has to distinguish itself as ‘The Sweetheart City’. In 1946, they began the infamous Valentine Re-mailing Program and today the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Post Office together receive and stamp more than 220,000 pieces of mail each year during the first two weeks in February. Valentines come from all around the world, including from a number of celebrities and dignitaries, just to have their message of love stamped so that it indicates it traveled to their respective sweethearts via the Land of Love.

Here at the Chamber, we see the Valentine Re-mailing Program as more than just one small opportunity for our community to be recognized on Valentine’s Day; we see it as an opportunity to help develop and grow business. Valentine’s Day is a holiday synonymous with love and romance. What if, as a business community, we build upon Loveland’s unique value proposition – its name – and took Thompson and Ivers’ re-mailing program to the next level? Valentine’s Day is certainly the pinnacle of it all, but love, romance and weddings happen each and every day. We need to develop and grow an industry built around love, romance and weddings!

People from all around the world come to Loveland to get married, celebrate their anniversaries, to renew their vows or simply spend a romantic weekend together. Businesses such as hotels, event centers, restaurants, florists, photographers, jewelers, caterers, retailers and many more could benefit from these special visitors to our community.

I do realize not every business would benefit directly, but many could and the residual effects could lead to many more opportunities yet to be seen. Ultimately, a thriving business creates more business and that is a good thing!

It will take the community to develop this Sweetheart City brand and utilize it to its fullest potential (especially considering the competition such as Loveland, Ohio and Valentine, Texas to name a few). As “The Driving Force for Business,” the developer of the Valentine Re-mailing program and the managing operator of Loveland’s only Visitors Center, the Chamber will help lead the way in promoting Loveland as a destination for love, romance and weddings. I invite you join us in letting the world know why they should come to “The Sweetheart City” and celebrate their love in Loveland!

It is an industry just waiting to blossom!

Warm wishes,
Brian

Posted on January 17th, 2010 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Plump Up Your Business!

Do you know what American’s top New Year’s resolution is? You guessed it, losing weight. While slimming down and getting fit is certainly important for a healthy lifestyle, we at the Loveland Chamber believe that for optimum business health, plumping up is the key to success!

This New Year, instead of trimming our services, the Loveland Chamber is committed to providing even more opportunities to grow your business. As the Chamber continues to move forward with its mission to be Loveland’s “Driving Force for Business,” our goal for 2010 is to continue increasing (or plumping up) our value proposition to you.

In 2009, the Chamber grew by leaps and bounds. In addition to adding new Legislative Affairs and Marketing Resource committees; new CyberChat sessions to help businesses embrace the latest and greatest changes in technology; and a brand new Web site complete with links, online registration and opportunities for our business investors (members) to blog about their products, services and industries, we also represented the business community at more City Council meetings and statewide meetings than ever before. Of course, we did all of this while working to deliver a successful Corn Roast Festival, Valentine’s Re-mailing Program and keeping regular Chamber programs intact.

Speaking of the Chamber’s Valentine’s Program, this is just one of many things that the Loveland Chamber is looking forward to growing this year and in the years to come. The traditional Valentine Press Conference, scheduled for Wednesday, January 13 will kick-off the 2010 Valentine’s program. At this time, we will unveil Loveland’s Official Valentine for 2010 as well as a brand new line of merchandise for the Loveland Visitors Center that will surely capture the heart of Loveland visitors and residents alike!

Excitement for the New Year will continue on Friday, January 22, at the McKee Conference and Wellness Center where the Chamber will host its Annual Investors Meeting. Instead of playing off America’s top reality hit “The Biggest Loser” – because losing is never fun when it comes to business – we want to honor the businesses that have not only sustained business in the economic downturn, but have thrived. This year, we are planning our Annual Investor’s Meeting around the theme “Survivor” and will honor our outstanding investors, Board and committee members, in addition to providing outstanding opportunities to network while competing in riveting “Survivor” challenges. We have added a silent auction and a card bidding game for investors to showcase and purchase some great packages while supporting the Chamber’s growth.

When losing weight, some find it inspiring to post a picture of themselves in their not-so-greatest moments as either a deterrent or a motivational tool. Since our goal here at the Chamber is to gain added value and services, we’re looking back at our past programs as inspiration to grow even more!

As we move along in 2010, the Loveland Chamber will start by re-launching a monthly Business Before Hours in March. We’ve heard from many how much value our Business After Hours presents; however, some are not always available for evening events. Your feedback also told us how valuable it is to make connections for your business, especially when those connections provide leads for new business. That is why the Chamber will be introducing a speed-networking event we are fittingly calling “Quick Net Leads.” This exciting new event will also begin in March.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the many new things the Loveland Chamber will be implementing in 2010. As the year progresses, we will be expanding and growing with our committees, events and programs. We’ll also continue raising our level of participation in local policy issues impacting business while monitoring the policies we have already had a positive influence on.

So, come on, join us in our resolution this New Year to plump up your business! Join and/or renew your commitment to the Loveland Chamber to gain added contacts and skills that will help you have a successful business for life!

Happy New Year,
Brian

Posted on January 3rd, 2010 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Thank You to Those Who Give Year Round!

The crinkle of wrapping paper. The smell of fresh baked cookies wafting from the oven. The chatty in-laws. The lights. The traffic. The crowds. And yes, even the pine needles that seem to lodge themselves deep into the carpet. I love every aspect of the holidays!

For me, there is no other time of year more magical than the holiday season. Things that would normally send me into a “Grinch”-type tailspin, don’t seem to bother me as much during the holidays. A large part is the Christmas spirit, but more than that, the subtle scents of gingerbread, vanilla and pine somehow remind me to count my blessings, and remember how fortunate I am to have a family that loves me unconditionally, friends that encourage me, and job that not only inspires me, but challenges and motivates me.

The holiday season of giving has only just begun for some, but in meeting with many of the fabulous investors of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, I can say with certainty that many individuals in our community “give back” regularly throughout the year. Their hard work deserves to be recognized; Loveland would not be the remarkable community it is without their incredible dedication!

This year the Chamber had the pleasure of honoring Kathi Wright, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County, with the title of Parade Marshal of our annual Corn Roast Festival. Kathi, who has worked tirelessly with the youth in our community for more than 25 years, is one of the outstanding individuals I’ve referenced that gives back to her community each and every day of the year.

Food Bank for Larimer County’s Executive Director Amy Pezzani, led her staff and hundreds of volunteers in distributing more than six million pounds of food to at-risk residents throughout Larimer County last year, and is on track to deliver similar results in 2009.

Judy Calhoun, executive director of the Larimer Humane Society, spends her days (and nights) promoting and providing the responsible care and treatments of animals in Larimer County. In 2009 Larimer Humane Society adopted 3,483 animals into loving homes and reunited over 2,538 animals to their owners.

Kim Vecchio of Engaging Loveland has worked endless hours working to enhance and support the development of community-wide events and celebrations here in Loveland including SummerFest in the Rockies and Santa’s Workshop at Centerra. She was also instrumental in passing 2B, the Lodging Tax initiative designed to enhance tourism, and boost the economic health of businesses in Loveland.

There are so many wonderful, giving people in Loveland that fortunately for us this list of recognition could go on for pages! But let me not forget to recognize the many wonderful volunteers who support the Chamber; from our Board members, to the many different committee members and of course, our Ambassadors. And my personal favorite, the Visitor Center volunteers who day in and day out put on a smiling face and assure that those visitors to our community are welcomed with a warm cup of coffee and provided with the very best knowledge of what makes Loveland special.

So this year, as you gather around the dining table with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, please join me in thanking those individuals that work tirelessly to support our great community day after day, year after year.

Your generosity and support are greatly appreciated!

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season,
Brian

Posted on December 6th, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

America's Sweetheart City Just Got a Little Sweeter!

Dear Loveland Chamber Investors and Citizens of Loveland:

The past few months have been exciting times for Loveland residents, business owners and business professionals as the city anxiously awaited Election Day. I’m thrilled to say on day after our elections that America’s Sweetheart City just got a little sweeter. Last night, residents of Loveland voted in favor of Initiative 2B, the proposed lodging tax. Early returns indicate the initiative passed with a considerable margin -- 58 percent of the vote.

I, along with the Board of Directors here at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, would like to thank the citizens of Loveland that voted in favor of the lodging tax. We would also like to thank the Building a Better Loveland committee for their exceptional work increasing awareness surrounding this tax and encouraging better understanding of the benefits that Loveland can now achieve with the expected additional revenue. The passing of 2B isn’t just a win for those that initially supported it; it is a big win for the city of Loveland including all businesses residing in this great city.

With more visitors investing our community, additional jobs will likely follow in the retail, service, recreation, entertainment and hospitality industries. Loveland will benefit from the additional sales tax dollars spent by those visiting our community, which will bring improvements to our roads and other city services. In keeping with our commitment to advocate on behalf of business, please know that we at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce will closely monitor how the lodging tax funds are allocated and ensure that businesses benefit and economic vitality is restored to our great city.

As an active participant in Loveland’s business environment and community, the Loveland Chamber is also honored to be supported by and be supporter’s of many candidates in yesterday’s election. This year’s crop of city council and mayoral candidates were outstanding, leaving voters with the difficult decision to choose the best representatives for various wards across the city and for mayor.

We made our endorsements clear back in October and focused on endorsing those candidates that we felt would best benefit the business community. However, with the election results in and the final decision made, we look forward to 2010 and partnering with all of our elected leaders. Our hope is that the newly elected candidates will work together to benefit the community overall. We also remember that non-winners are still among the most professional, business-minded Loveland residents and we are proud to call several of them dedicated Chamber investors.

Finally, I’d like to thank our investors for your ear during this election season and for your support of the Chamber’s voice in this process. As Loveland’s driving force for business, our goal is to ensure that business benefits are top-of-mind in local, national and federal advocacy efforts. Your support of this process is critical in our efforts.

Thank you for taking the time to vote and showing your support for Loveland.

Best wishes,
Brian

Posted on November 4th, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Consider Your Vote

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree the 2008 presidential election was one for the record books. With an African-American and a woman competing for the Democratic Party nomination, and a decorated war veteran and young female governor representing the Republican Party, America made history. Today, the President is facing an incredible set of challenges to bring America back to its prime: affordable healthcare, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy and unemployment to name a few.

Colorado is not exempt from many of these issues and the impact is being felt right here in Loveland. That is why I am of the opinion that the most important elections occurring this November are the local elections – the outcome will be felt right here in our own backyard!

Our community has a lot at stake this election. We have five candidates running for Mayor with no incumbent. We have nine candidates running for four City Council seats and only one of the candidates is an incumbent. No matter who is elected, Loveland will experience significant changes to our City Council.

As someone who has been described often as a ‘change-agent’, I certainly appreciate transformation. However, I am concerned that our potential change to leadership could lead our community in a direction that stifles our economic development by limiting opportunities for job creation and business growth. Such changes would likely lead to more commercial real estate vacancies, less sales tax to support our services and eventually a drop in home values since people want to reside where they can find income.

This is not to say that our future city leaders should ‘bow down’ to business and grant entrepreneurs’ every request. In fact, I believe just the opposite; our leaders should challenge our local business owners, ask them tough questions and only partner with those businesses that are committed to bettering our community. But there in lies the key word - PARTNER! Business should not be viewed as the enemy, but instead as a partner that keeps the economic engines in our community running: creating jobs, supplying revenue to support our many city services and giving people a reason to reside here.

The 2009 Election is a “mail-in ballot” only election, meaning your ballot is delivered by mail and you cast your vote by mail as well. Having such an opportunity provides the benefit of allowing us voters to take our time with the decision making process and become informed on the issues. For my wife and I, it allows us time to sit down at our dining room table, with resources at hand, and candidly discuss the issues as we finalize our decisions. We certainly enjoy the process and feel better about our decisions.

Unfortunately, the mail-in ballot process also creates a shorter window of time for the voters to obtain information. The ballots were mailed out Friday, October 9; several members of our community have already received their ballots and voted. Luckily, for those that haven’t had a chance to vote yet, there’s still time. You have more than two weeks to mail in your ballot. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.

For those of you who have not voted yet, I ask that you review the issues carefully before casting your ballot. The chamber has plenty of resources to assist you. Visit our Web site, www.loveland.org or give us a call, (970) 667-6311 and we’ll be happy to provide you with information we have. Many of the candidates have responded to a questionnaire developed by members of our Local Legislative Affairs committee that posed questions on the key issues that matter most when it comes to improving the economic vitality of Loveland. Once you have reviewed the issues, consider how your vote impacts business. Consider how your vote impacts jobs. Consider how your vote impacts Loveland… not just today, but in the future.

Until next time, warm wishes,
Brian

Posted on October 18th, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Vote 'Yes' on 2B - Support of the Lodging Tax in Loveland

Advocacy on behalf of our investors – and Loveland’s business community in general – is a key focus for the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. As you may have seen, implementation of a lodging tax will be added as ballot issue 2B for the upcoming November elections. Due to many benefits that can arise from this tax, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, backed by a decision from the board of directors, is in support of a lodging tax for the city of Loveland. We request the support of our investors and have outlined several facts and details about the lodging tax to support our ‘pro 2B’ decision.

Please don’t be fooled by the word tax. The passage of ballot issue 2B is NOT a tax directed at the citizens of Loveland; it is a tax that is paid for by the individuals and groups that visit Loveland by occupying a hotel room. Currently, more than 50 Colorado cities and towns, including our neighbors Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Estes Park implement a lodging tax, and for good reason.

Loveland business and community will realize several benefits with the passage of 2B:

· Creation of jobs in the service, recreation, entertainment and hospitality industries in Loveland

· Improved awareness of Loveland and our amenities

· Enhanced economic development

· Improved promotion of tourism and conventions

· Increased number of community events

Now, more than ever, the City of Loveland needs to be focused on the economy through creating new jobs, strengthening local businesses that are already operating in our community and attracting new businesses to our community. Income from a lodging tax will help make that happen. It will grow local businesses as demand for services and resources around Loveland increases. Current Loveland residents will need to fill job positions as the city’s opportunities expand.

Tourism dollars act as an economic stimulus as they are new dollars brought in from outside our community and spent locally. For every $1 spent by visitors on lodging, the Loveland community will receive an additional $3.43. This $3.43 is the additional income resulting from visitor’s purchases at local retail establishments and restaurants (The Economic Impact of Travel on Colorado 1996-2005; Dean Runyan Associates, Larimer District).

For example, if a visitor to Loveland spent $100 on a hotel, our community would benefit from an additional $343 that same visitor would spend on purchases at local retail establishments, restaurants and other businesses offering products and services. Multiply that by 365 days and we have an additional $125,195 flowing through Loveland – directly benefiting business and creating more jobs.

Loveland’s lodging community is in strong support of a lodging tax – they realize that the benefit of bringing more conventions and increased tourism to our community significantly outweighs the modest fee paid by guests. Unlike a property tax or sales tax, the lodging tax will not be paid by Loveland residents.

One question that has arisen is how this lodging tax income will be spent. A Community Marketing Commission will be developed to oversee the use of proceeds of the lodging tax. This commission will be comprised of residents, employees and employers within economic development, community development, tourism, hospitality, marketing and other pertinent professions in Loveland.

Fort Collins and Estes Park are considered the No. 3 and No. 4 top tourist destinations in Colorado respectively, behind only Denver and Colorado Springs (Longwoods International’s Colorado 2008 Travel Year report). This statistics proves two things: 1) that despite implementing lodging tax, these destinations remain popular among tourists, and 2) these cities are benefiting from additional income into their local economies by the large number of tourists who choose these destinations. As the ‘gateway’ to Rocky Mountain National Park and Fort Collins’ sister city, Loveland is in an excellent position to increase tourism and the local economy. There is no reason that Loveland cannot achieve the same, if not better, results than our neighboring cities.

Voting ‘yes’ on 2B is demonstrating your support for Loveland’s future. We hope you consider these facts and support us in this effort.

Best regards,
Brian

Posted on September 28th, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Join the Chamber in Supporting Our Schools & Future Workforce

With August now upon us, discussion around our dinner table has shifted from bike rides and swim lessons, to backpacks and binders. My eldest daughter is starting eighth grade this year; and while I count my blessings knowing that Taryn is getting a first-rate education, I remind myself that there are still gaps in student achievement that disenfranchise large segments of our population.

Teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals within the Thompson School District here in Loveland, and countless private schools around Northern Colorado, work tirelessly to educate our youth. My wife, Marcie, is a former elementary school teacher and I know now that a teacher’s job goes well beyond 3:30 p.m. A teacher can only do so much when working to improve student achievement and to help prepare our students for success after high school. Success in our schools takes more than a teacher, more than a parent; it takes a community.

The Loveland Chamber of Commerce is comprised of hundreds of talented business owners, entrepreneurs and executives of organizations of all sizes and industries. Together, we residents of the great city of Loveland, have the power to make a difference in children’s lives.
As we move into this new school year, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce is looking for ways to increase our contribution to the education of our future workforce. The chamber has partnered with Thompson School District for years on a number of programs, including the New Teacher Orientation Breakfast and the Business Work Experience Internship program. I would encourage each of you to take a look at these two opportunities and see how you might be able to contribute as well.

The Loveland Chamber would like to assist the business community with becoming more involved with our education system; it is, of course, the training ground for tomorrow’s employees! In fact, Thompson School District Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera shared with me his desire for us to participate more; some possible options we discussed were mentoring and classroom presentations. This year, I would like to challenge each and every one of you to become more involved with the education system. The chamber would like to help facilitate that so you don’t have to do it alone.

If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact me as we will be forming a new committee to focus on ways the business community can be a collaborative partner with our educators. We will be exploring ways we can volunteer in the classroom to provide mentoring and increase the opportunities, too, for internships. As a volunteer in the past with Junior Achievement and Banking On Our Future, I was able to educate and inspire young individuals on entrepreneurship and financial literacy, bringing me great joy, all the while having a positive impact on developing tomorrow’s workforce.

And don’t forget you have other options as well to be an active participant in the future of tomorrow’s employees. You can apply to sit on a local or state board of education, or volunteer with an outstanding non-profit organization like the Boys & Girls Club of Larimer County. Let’s help close the achievement gap, support our local teachers and raise student achievement!

The Loveland Chamber of Commerce is intent on supporting our schools and teachers, and investing in our community’s students. Join me and the other staff members at the chamber in making a difference for the 2009-2010 school year!

Until next time, best wishes.
Brian

Posted on August 2nd, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO

Advocacy, Connections, Education & Visbility!

Did you hear that U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Loveland, Colorado as one of the top 10 cities in the United States to live? I would say I can’t believe it, but the truth is… I can! Here in Loveland, we not only have access to the most amazing cultural and recreational opportunities around, but we have a phenomenal business community that makes Northern Colorado stand head and shoulders above the rest!

I truly feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful network of business entrepreneurs. For that, I thank you, our Chamber investors. You have made my first nine months at the Chamber an absolute pleasure!

As enjoyable as my job has been, it’s been challenging weathering the economic downturn. Sadly, the current state of the economy has brought on a great deal of uncertainty for businesses both large and small. That is why here at the Chamber we believe in providing varying avenues and resources to help you not only survive, but thrive!

To ensure we are providing you with the greatest return on your investment, we have identified four pillars to help you build a strong foundation for your business: advocacy, education, visibility and connections!

Advocacy
This year, we are expanding upon our advocacy efforts. In addition to our participation in the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA), we’ve created a Legislative Affairs Committee here at the Chamber for investors interested in public policy and its impact on the business community. As part of the Legislative Affairs Committee, you can help the Chamber identify policy issues that could potentially impact business and help recommend a course of action to our Board of Directors. In fact, recently, the Chamber set forth a resolution in regards to proposed amendments to the City’s electronic sign code ordinance. The result was positive for local business owners!

Education
In addition to our advocacy efforts, we have also stepped up our education efforts. This year, thanks to the expertise of our investors that are a part of the Chamber’s newly formed Web 2.0 committee, we are able to offer a variety of new classes, appropriately named CyberChats, on how to use technology to grow your business. So far, CyberChat sessions have focused on topics like mobile media and search engine optimization (SEO), in addition to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I encourage you to take advantage of these amazing classes to not only increase your customer base online, but in person as well.

Visibility and Connections
Recently, the Chamber sponsored the very first NoCO Social Media Social where local users of the various social networking sites came out from behind their avatars to meet in person. The event was extremely successful with over 75 entrepreneurs in attendance, not only from Loveland, but the neighboring communities of Fort Collins, Greeley, Johnstown and Windsor too!

Speaking of successful events… This year we also introduced Stir Loveland, our young professionals group geared towards entrepreneurs 45 years and younger. Stir Loveland held its launch event at Cipoletti’s downtown. With over 100 young professionals in attendance, the line extended out the door onto 4th Street! Since then, the founding members have set up educational events with opportunities to meet and learn from experts like Mayor Gene Pielin and State Representative Don Marostica!

If you’re interested in joining Stir Loveland, a committee like Legislative Affairs or Web 2.0, or one of our four leads groups, please give us a call. Involvement from our investors in our events and committees in paramount to the Chamber’s success! In fact, if you have an idea for another event or committee, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to call or email me, stop by the Chamber or attend one of our CEO Connection lunches, which are offered to our all Chamber investors at various times throughout the year by invitation.

We appreciate input from our investors and encourage you to share your comments and suggestions. Our Chamber is only as strong as our participating investors!

Before I go, I’d like to remind you to do business with your fellow investors. Supporting area companies and organizations is important to Northern Colorado’s economic stability and vitality. Stay tuned for additional information about Loveland Unite, our new program that encourages you to do just that… stay local, buy local.

Until next time, take care.
Brian

Posted on June 17th, 2009 by Brian Willms, President & CEO