[Intro] Welcome to chats with chambers with your hosts Patrick Kirby and Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each week we connect and learn from executives of chambers of commerce from across the country. These short episodes will share success stories, challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks to inspire you, and provide resources for hitting your organizational goals. From recruiting new and retaining current members to finding new and creative revenue sources. You’ll hear straight from those leading chambers and communities throughout the US. Chats with chambers is proudly brought to you by the Nonprofit bootcamp. Learn more and check out the show notes for episodes at https://nonprofitbootcamponline.com
[Patrick Kirby] Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of chats with chambers, where we try to talk with Chambers of Commerce all over the United States get tips and tricks and things that they’re doing well that you can use in your own backyard to increase membership. Get your value on for your members, and really try to keep them around for a little while, because that’s what we’re here for. I am excited to welcome to the podcast Jessa boots. She is the executive director of the wom Miko Chamber of Commerce. Jessica, welcome to chat with chambers.
[Jessa Voos] Hi, thanks so much for having me, Patrick, I appreciate it.
[Patrick Kirby] Very excited to chat with you today. But if somebody’s checking in and they’re like, Hey, I don’t really know where Wamego is. I don’t know what is going on here. But it sounds intriguing. Can you kind of give us a 5000 foot view of the community that you serve as the chamber?
[Jessa Voos] Absolutely. So we are a small little town in northeast Kansas, our population is just under 5000 people. So we’re a small community, we are located next to bigger communities. But our membership base in our little Wamego town is about 165 members. So for being a small town, we have a great chamber membership, membership base. And one thing that I think really is wonderful about our community is the chamber. As a chamber, we work so well with the local government, economic development, CVB. And we all work together to move the needle forward in our community, and our county is one of the fastest growing counties in our region. And so in the state of Kansas, actually, and so it’s a really exciting time for us. And we all work together to to make everybody’s life a little bit better.
[Patrick Kirby] Awesome. Oh, tell me about the business climate in when you go,
[Jessa Voos] it’s growing, you know, we have a huge company coming in that’s supposed to about about to bring 500 jobs into the region. And so because of that, you know, smaller businesses are coming in, and we’re just on going up and growing, which is exciting.
[Patrick Kirby] I love that. I would like to know a fact that I would have never known without talking to you about your area where what about when you go is interesting and fun that you wouldn’t find in a normal, you know, sort of setting but you’d have to look it up on the internet to find out if it’s true or not. And it’s very fascinating. What is that?
[Jessa Voos] Well, I have a couple couple things. First, we are in a region called the Flint Hills. So when people think of Kansas, most likely think of like flat, flat Kansas, right Wizard of Oz style. But we are in the Flint Hills, which is actually a really beautiful region of Kansas, very, very beautiful rolling hills and Prairie. And so people are always surprised when they come to this area that it is as beautiful as it is. And then more specifically with warm ego. We are known as the hub of the Wizard of Oz. And so we have an AWS Museum, which brings in about 40,000 people a year into the AWS Museum, which who would have thought that into this small little town people are coming from all over, I get calls from people from California coming to see the AWS museum. So it’s a really neat little quirky thing about our town.
[Patrick Kirby] I love that chambers of commerce, you kind of got your pulse on everything that you do some amazing things. Can you share with us some of your biggest accomplishments, your best things that you’ve been doing to work with businesses in your community?
[Jessa Voos] Sure. So we I would say that we hang our hat on our festivals and events. We really again, I’ve said it a number of times we are a small town and we put on festivals and events that bring in like we’re about to have the celebration of freedom and while Miko which is a fourth of July event and it brings 50,000 people to our town for one day. We have a Tulip Festival every spring that brings in 1000s of people. So we do maybe four or five a year and we’ve kind of got that thing down. So we’re really good at bringing people in for those kinds of events.
[Patrick Kirby] That’s awesome. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. We all know that business communities never the best of the best all the time. What sort of challenges have has the legal community been facing? How’s the chamber kind of help with that?
[Jessa Voos] Yeah, um, so a couple things come to mind. First, I started this position in January. So I haven’t been here all that long. And before I took this position, there had been some turnover in the chamber. And so my focus has been since since taking on this role in January has been really rebuilding relationships and rebuilding trust with the chamber and getting out into our community and talking to people and trying to just pour into our members show the value and really work from a place of actions versus words, and show that what the chamber has to offer to our community. So that’s one thing that we’ve been dealing with another is just like every community COVID has thrown a lot of kinks into some of the things that we do and trying to navigate through that. For instance, every year, our community, a local in our community puts on a big Easter egg hunt. And this year, because of COVID, she was unable to do it. So at the last minute, the one we go chamber jumped in to put on this event so that the kids could do this annual event. And we expected, or we were hoping I should say, to have an engagement with our community of like a donation of a few eggs, maybe a few easter egg baskets, in our community in our chamber rally together, and we had over 5000 Easter eggs donated, we had 70, Easter baskets donated, and over 700 people show up. So it was just an incredible demonstration of our community and how everyone rallies together,
[Patrick Kirby] it’s, it’s probably a lot easier to handle turnover and sort of being new on the job when you’ve got, you know, relationships and people in the community exactly like that turnout when they need it most. And all of a sudden, you can start from really great place. And I love that you’ve mentioned relationships first, that’s always the most important thing anyway. And and just to have a laser focus on that is pretty great. Now you haven’t been an executive director of a Chamber of Commerce for too long, that doesn’t give you any less experience and try to doling out some tips and tricks for others who are maybe looking for a little bit of advice on what they can use from other people across the country on what’s working for them. What do you find? That’s really amazing. And what can you give as a tip or a trick that others could kind of steal, and use in their own communities?
[Jessa Voos] Yeah, well, I mean, you said it to relationships. It’s, this is a relationship business. And in my experience, people want to be heard. And so I go in and listen and ask questions, and just really be a good listener to hear what they need, what their business needs, what their concerns are, and let them feel heard and understood, and try and build that relationship in that trust. And then with people that maybe are still on the fence about being Chamber members, my again, I just want them to feel heard. So my questions to them are, how can the chamber help your business? How can we add value to your business? And then what would our community look like if we didn’t have a chamber? And so I think those questions really get people thinking and then they feel part of the conversation instead of me trying to sell them on being a chamber member.
[Patrick Kirby] Yeah, I love that. No, I love what you’re bringing frame that if like, if we go away what happens as a mystery question to start a conversation. That’s brilliant. I love it. All right. Jessa I am I am moving to amigo. Okay, I’m bringing the business down. We’re going to set up shop in the next couple of weeks. But I don’t know if I want to be a chamber member yet. So you’re gonna try to sell me on it right now. Give me your best elevator pitch on why I should join the AMIGO chamber and go
[Jessa Voos] Well, I don’t know if this is a pitch or not. But I would probably say to someone, what does your business need? And that’s how I would start the conversation. And then from there, I would say you know, well your business needs support from the community. Here’s here’s what we do to support the community. Your business needs more employees here, here are the resources we have for you. Your business needs. I know networking here come to this event we can network with other professionals. So again, I don’t know that I have a a one liner or a one paragraph elevator pitch more just open up the conversation.
[Patrick Kirby] I love it because it’s unique and it’s individualized and there’s never a one size fits all sort of answer which makes it the best one. Alright, Sign me up. I’m moving in sign up. You got another one there. All right, just a how do people find you on the interwebs so they can actually see what what the wind echo chamber is doing? And see kind of the cool place. Maybe book their next vacation there to go see the Wizard of Oz museum or enjoy the Tulip Festival. How do we get a hold of you and where do we go?
[Jessa Voos] We have a website when we go chamber.com And then also for all of our tours things. Visit one miko.com has all of our our sites and fest Have goals and everything else.
[Patrick Kirby] Perfect. Thanks so much for being a guest on the podcast. Thanks so much for what you’re doing to the business community, supporting them in a very personalized, very not sort of compartmentalize sort of solutions to a lot of things. And thanks for making relationships number one, the most important thing to do, thanks so much for being on the podcast here, chat with chambers. And hey, everybody, go to the show notes. We’re gonna put all the links in there, get your rear ends down to amigo, and enjoy all of the awesomeness that is there. Thanks, guys for being on the podcast.
[Closing] Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or to check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofitbootcamponline/podcast. Hey subscribe, give us a five star review if you liked what you heard and if you are a chamber would like to be a guest on this show. Hey, email us firstname.lastname@example.org Or email@example.com Links in the show notes
Wamego is a small community in NE Kansas and has a strong Chamber working in conjunction with other area organizations like the CVB. Wamgeo is the fastest growing community in Kansas and has a new major business bringing 500 jobs to the area. Wamego is known as the hub of the Wizard of Oz. They are home to the Oz museum.
Wamego is super proud of their festivals and events. They bring in up to 50,000 plus people for some of their events. This is what they’ve become best at and really keep those events going strong.
Rebuilding relationships and trust and talking to people is something that Jessa is working on. As a newer executive she is trying to show trust with her businesses instead of just giving words. Being a good listener and allowing business owners to be heard helps to build trust. There are core questions that she asks when people aren’t chamber members yet to make it more about them.
Questions We Asked
- What is the Wamego Area Chamber all about? [1:28]
- What are some wins? [4:12]
- What are challenges you face? [4:56]
- What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [7:15]
- How can you learn more about Wamego? [8:41]
Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce
The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization dedicated to enhancing the local economy through healthy commerce, investment, industry, education and business collaboration. It is supported through private membership dues. We are the voice of the local private sector.
The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce supports civic endeavors, community and culture by fostering an environment that promotes and supports business relationships and community involvement for a prosperous place to live, work and do business. Learn more at: https://wamegochamber.com