St. Marys Chamber looking to the future

The St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to the future as they undergo a complete reshaping of the organization in an effort to better serve the local business community, as well as individual residents. "I would like to see the Chamber as a more positive, active force in the community," said recently elected president Mark Rupprecht. "The board is made up of accomplished individuals that are community-minded and want to help move this Chamber into a position where it's respected within the community." Rupprecht, who took over the role as president in March, has been busy working closely with Chamber board members as well as meeting with local businesses and individuals, gathering input as to what they would like to see the Chamber offer.A special Business After Hours will be held at Gunner's Restaurant on Monday beginning at 6 p.m. The event is for all those interested in learning about the changes taking place within the Chamber. The event is open to the public, with both members and non-members encouraged to attend. Chamber President Mark Rupprecht will speak at 6:30 p.m. about the organization's new endeavors.Among the changes implemented within the Chamber are new weekly workshops. As part of the informal workshops, current board members team up with community-minded individuals in forming various taskforces which focus on ways to improve Chamber memberships for small businesses, industry, overall benefits and other speciality groups in order to address members' needs."We brought on board qualified, accomplished people within the community to help us achieve some goals. Through workshops, there has been an overwhelming amount of great discussion," Rupprecht said. ""There are a lot of projects on the burner that we simply cannot get to because we have a lack of manpower to get everything done." Anyone interested in participating in the workshops is encouraged to contact the Chamber for more information."Changes are not going to happen overnight. It's going to take some time to develop our vision," noted Chamber vice president Jennifer Dippold. "The board recognizes that they are the face of the Chamber as far as the decisions we make, the ideas we have and our future vision. That's what I'm getting from a lot of the ideas that Mark has." Rupprecht emphasized the Chamber's initial focus in moving forward is on members and member benefits. He added the Chamber hopes to focus on offering benefits related to things which people use on a daily basis, such as energy and electricity. Chamber representatives continue meeting with energy suppliers to research if it is feasible if the Chamber as a group can obtain discounts for its members.This summer, the organization plans to conduct a strong individual membership drive. They are currently working on creating a benefit package for individuals.