Cristie Andrews has a sweet deal for local Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce members — a chance to visit with other businesses in the community, promoting their own enterprise while on the visit. She even will throw in a light breakfast for those interested in the deal.
All she asks is that those folks who take her up on the idea also make it a point to represent the chamber while making the visit, and maybe volunteer to help out at a few chamber events throughout the coming year.
She is recruiting for members in the Chamber Ambassador program, and those requirements — and benefits — describe in a nutshell what ambassadors do: They visit area chamber members, communicating what the chamber has to offer and seeing how the chamber might help those local businesses, along with helping out at some of the chamber’s activities. And while there, the ambassador gets to show off what his or her business might offer as well.
She said the goal is for the ambassadors, as a group, to contact all 600 chamber members in 2022.
“We want to let our members know that we care and we want to help in anyway we can,” said Randy Collins, president and CEO of the chamber.
“I need a large group of people who are willing to get involved on behalf of the chamber, and use that ability to raise their own brand,” said Andrews, who is the chamber’s director of membership. “It goes both ways, helping the chamber as customer service reps, and helping their own business at the same time.”
For folks wanting more in-depth information on the program, Andrews and the chamber will be hosting a chamber ambassador recruitment breakfast Wednesday, Jan. 19 at RidgeCrest Senior Living Community from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.
Andrews, along with Membership Committee Chairman Chad Tidd and Connie Hamlin, chairman of the board and lifestyle advisor at RidgeCrest, will all be addressing the group. Andrews said those at the breakfast will receive an application for the ambassador program, to be completed and then signed by the person’s employer, before training gets underway in February.
The long-time ambassador program has been popular through the years, with members not only making informational visits to chamber members, but also serving as volunteers who meet with area businesses to present awards, attend ribbon cuttings, as well as working to recruit new members.
Chamber membership took a bit of a hit over the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In early 2020, just before the pandemic hit, chamber officials announced the organization had for the first time crossed the 600-member mark. Since then, with some businesses closing and others cutting back, chamber membership fell.
“The ability to not get out and see people definitely affected that,” she said of membership and the work of the ambassadors. “We had some very smart ambassadors who got on the phone, or used email, to send messages of encouragement to members.
“Small business owners are typically the ones who are most affected,” Andrews said. “They are having to make decisions, ‘Am I going to pay my staff, or pay my membership dues?’” she said as an example.
While some did leave, many have returned, she said, as the economy has picked up despite the lingering pandemic.
“We were fairly lucky…to keep a strong membership base in place. There was a loss…be we were able to rebound from that, as well as bring new ones in.”
As of Thursday morning, she said chamber membership stood at 608, and she hopes to see that number between 650 and 675 by year’s end.
Thus far, Andrews said 20 people had sent an online RSVP for Wednesday’s recruiting breakfast, but she has room for many more.
”They are going to be essential this year, I have a large goal to meet,” she said.
Visit https://www.mtairyncchamber.org/ and scroll down to the “Become an ambassador” tab to register for the event. For more information, contact Andrews at 336-786-6116, extension 206, or via email at email@example.com.