The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce announced Friday its membership has reached 500 members after hovering just under that number for some time.
“We’ve just seen in the past few months we finally got over that hump,” said Randy Collins, chamber president and CEO of the non-profit business organization, which serves Surry County, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Dobson.
This isn’t the first time the organization has announced the milestone.
In February 2014, the organization made a similar announcement, honoring Foothills Garage Doors as its 500th member.
“The membership fluctuates on a regular basis,” said Randy Collins, who assumed his position in May 2015.
“When I came the membership was below 500,” he said. “My goal all along was to bring that back up over the 500 level.”
Collins provided several reasons why reaching the 500 member milestone is significant.
“It certainly means that people are engaged,” he said, and also improves the chamber’s rank in the area.
“Reaching 500 members places the Greater Mount Airy Chamber in the top 10 chambers in the region,” Collins stated.
The Triad Business Journal Book of Lists for 2015-2016 ranked the local chamber at 7 out of 23 top chambers, according to information provided by the chamber.
“You want to know how we measure up,” the president said, “how close or how far away are we.”
The president referenced the Winston-Salem chapter, which he said has about 1,400 members.
While that is a much larger organization, the Greater Mount Airy chamber reflects a higher percentage of participating businesses out of the 2,000 based in Surry County.
“Chambers across the U.S. are lucky to get 35 to 40 percent of the market share,” Collins said, “which means between 700 and 800 before we reach market saturation.”
Another reason growing the membership is important is that, “that’s really how we generate revenue,” in addition to the organization’s signature event, The Autumn Leaves Festival, Collins said.
“Bigger just brings more resources, certainly the money, but it’s more than that,” Collins said.
“It’s influence, more company leaders that may want to get involved in what the chamber does, new ideas,” he said. “More members bring more members, more ideas, and maybe they bring a portion of the community that’s not represented,” for example, a manufacturer that recently joined.
“It’s good to hear from a different segment of the community rather than the ones we hear from all the time.”
Collins said that references within the past couple of years to a 500-member chamber, such as in his introduction to the 2016 chamber directory, indicate a “rounding up” from actual, fluctuating membership of about 460 to 480.
“We’ve done a pretty thorough wash of the database to make sure we’re not carrying any members we shouldn’t be,” he said.
Members are billed for dues, which indicate their continuing involvement with the chamber, annually each January.
Now that the numbers are up past 500, coming in at 504 as of Friday, Collins set a new goal of 600, and a year-end goal of 550.
“Frankly, we’ve found that many people haven’t joined because they haven’t been asked,” he said, “and now we’re going out and making sure that people are invited.”
For more information or to join the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, call 336-786-6116, email [email protected], or visit MtAiryNcChamber.org.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.