Cottonwood Heights Business Association Looking to Boost Participation
Apr 29, 2019 07:55AM
By Cassie Goff
Every business owner within Cottonwood Heights is a member of the business association: no matter how big or small the business is. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Every business owner within city boundaries is automatically a member of the Cottonwood Heights Business Association (CHBA). With over 1,500 businesses in the city, including startups, home-based, commercial and established businesses, the membership base is extremely vast. However, only a handful of individuals have recently been active within the CHBA, by attending or sponsoring events, or volunteering.
“Right now, business owners are part of something, and they don’t know what it is,” said Business Development Specialist Sherrie Martell.
The CHBA was first created over four years ago under the guidance of former Development and Economic Development Director Brian Berndt and former Business Specialist Peri Kinder, with the goal to create relationships between the city and business community.
“We wanted the council and mayor to communicate and work closely with the business owners,” said former CHBA Chairman Ron Benson.
“Our main function as the CHBA is to help create a vibrant, thriving economic community within Cottonwood Heights,” said CHBA Board of Directors Chairman Bryce Drescher. “We have many businesses within Cottonwood Heights and our business community is an important part to the success of the city and our economic development. As the CHBA we really want to help businesses make connections, build relationships, understand what resources are available, and help them be successful.”
In order to ensure that every business owner can be a member, the CHBA does not charge a membership fee. This means the CHBA is an association, not a Chamber of Commerce.
“We didn’t want a chamber because of the feeling from the business owners that chambers don’t do a lot for the businesses while still charging a fee,” Benson said.
However, even without a membership fee, involvement has been declining. The CHBA board and city staff members have been reevaluating how the CHBA functions, in order to become more visible and increase involvement from community members.
To kick off the new iteration of the CHBA, a focus group was held to hear opinions from business owners, specifically focusing on thoughts and ideas, what their needs are, and how the CHBA can be more useful to businesses. “That feedback will be used to create a new strategic plan,” Martell said.
“As we work to understand each of their individual needs, we can help them build connections and provide resources to help them grow,” said Drescher.
“The focus is really: how can we provide value in the business community and retain more businesses in the area, while bringing more into the city,” said CHBA Vice Chairman Jeff Kemp.
Martell has set some specific goals to help work toward the association’s renewed vision. She hopes to visit the top 24 businesses in the city to discuss economic development and business retention. In addition, she aims to rehouse all the information on the CHBA’s outside website, chbusiness.org, to the city’s website.
Lastly, the CHBA hopes to connect with the Sandy Chamber of Commerce, along with Holladay’s and Millcreek’s. “We can use resources to connect or leverage the Sandy Chamber. That way, businesses can network with hundreds of businesses instead of just a few,” said Martell.
In order for the CHBA to be successful, everyone mentioned in this article agrees that community involvement is necessary.
“For the CHBA to be effective the business owners have to participate,” said Benson. “The board can schedule everything and set things in place, but they have to have participation from all the business owners.”
“It's been fun to watch personal relationships develop and business transactions occur through participation in the networking events,” said City Council Liaison Tali Bruce. “I myself have found new services and vendors both for personal use and for my business.”
One of those opportunities can be taken advantage of when businesses come into the city. “Any business that opened would have the option to do a ribbon cutting. The mayor or city council, chair and executives would be out for the grand opening,” said Benson.
In addition to ribbon cuttings, networking events specific for business owners will continue, including business luncheons and Cottonwood Connects.
Community support is necessary as well, not just involvement from business owners. “We try to include the public. You can’t have a very successful business without community support,” said Benson.
Currently, the CHBA hosts many events that will continue through the CHBA restructuring. “Community events are very successful so we will continue to perpetuate those things,” said Kemp.
Community events the CHBA hosts include Sub for Santa, bike rides, Death by Chocolate, Trunk or Treat and Bites in the Heights in August.
The next event will be held in the Cottonwood Heights City Hall Community Room (2277 Bengal Blvd.) on Wednesday, May 8, from 9–10 a.m. The event is a Cottonwood Connect, which is “an organized networking event where businesses are able to meet other businesses within the Cottonwood Heights area. Get to know others, share challenges and showcase your business,” said Drescher.
In addition to Cottonwood Connects, “business owners and/or volunteers can get involved with the association by supporting businesses within Cottonwood Heights, attending CHBA activities and/events, volunteering to help support the CHBA and providing feedback. As a volunteer association we are always looking for businesses and individuals that are interested in helping support the CHBA,” said Drescher.
For more information on the CHBA, visit chbusiness.org. Or follow them on social media with the handles @chbabiz on Instagram and Twitter, or @CHBusinessAssociation on Facebook.