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Strategic Plan - Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Conway Development Corporation

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The basis for the long-range strategic plan for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corporation is partially based on the results of the Conway2025 visioning and planning process.

Text of Strategic Plan - Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Conway Development Corporation







  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 2 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The basis for the long-range strategic plan for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the

    Conway Development Corporation is partially based on the results of the Conway2025

    visioning and planning process. Designed, organized, and executed by the Conway Area

    Chamber of Commerce, the yearlong process was completed in October 2010.

    Modeled after several other successful community-based visioning and planning processes,

    Conway2025 was based on a survey tool that was available electronically. In addition, paper

    copies were available at specially designed kiosks placed in high-traffic locations, including

    coffee shops, fitness centers, and the county library. More than 1,400 people completed the

    survey, which asked respondents to prioritize 43 possible focus areas. An eight-person steering

    committee took those responses and prioritized them into 12 categories that were ranked as the

    most important issues facing the community.

    More than 200 volunteers served on committees to develop action items for each category. After

    50 meetings, the committees identified 132 individual goals. The final Conway2025 document

    was presented to the public for the first time at the Chambers Business Expo Breakfast in

    October 2010. Steering committee members voted to place the responsibility for managing the

    implementation of the plan with the Chamber. Both the Chamber and CDC Boards of Directors

    adopted a number of the goals as their respective responsibilities in January 2011. Other entities

    (the City of Conway, Conway Public School System, and Conway Alliance for the Arts) are

    assuming responsibility for other sections of the plan.

    The Boards identified other long-range goals in January 2011, which they review yearly.

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 3 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    Any successful economic development program

    has a basis in community development. The

    Chamber and CDC will lead certain community

    development efforts in the city. The primary

    community development activity of the

    Chamber is the beautification of major

    thoroughfares in the city. Some young

    professionals are choosing to live in other cities

    because of a lack of downtown multi-family

    housing, and the market is not responding. The

    CDC will explore the possibility of filling the

    development role.

    Harkrider Street near Hendrix College

    Create and implement a master plan to redevelop the Interstate 40 corridor through

    Conway, including landscaping, unified decorative bridge design, and lighting while

    highlighting natural features, such as Lake Conway

    Master Plan Complete

    Timeline: 2011

    Formal Adoption of the Plan by Conway City Council

    Timeline: 2012

    Establish costs and funding mechanism for bridges

    Timeline: 2012

    Coordinate project with the expansion of Interstate 40

    Timeline: 2015

    Establish landscaping plans for major thoroughfares and roundabouts (coordinating

    with construction projects with City of Conway)

    Harkrider Street (between Hendrix College and Oak Street)

    Timeline: 2012

    Prince Street (between Donaghey Avenue and Salem Road)

    Timeline: 2013

    Dave Ward Drive

    Timeline: 2013

    Redevelop Oak Street into an attractive corridor between downtown and the Interstate

    40 shopping corridor

    Establish long-term plans/needs with City and Arkansas Highway &

    Transportation Department

    Timeline: 2012

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 4 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Select Master Planner

    Timeline: 2012

    Master Planning Process

    Timeline: 2013

    Establish timeline and probable funding sources for completion

    Timeline: 2013

    Establish a cohesive plan to connect institutions (University of Central Arkansas,

    Conway Regional Health System, Conway High School, Central Baptist College, and

    Hendrix College) through downtown Conway with dedicated, decorative sidewalks and


    Master Plan

    Timeline: 2012

    Potential Funding Sources Identified

    Timeline: 2012

    Establish timeline and probable funding sources for completion

    Timeline: 2013

    Determine the market potential for downtown multi-family housing while identifying

    potential sites, partners, and financing mechanisms.

    Timeline: 2012


    Although new, the partnership between

    the A&P Commission and the Chamber

    has grown dramatically. The

    establishment of a recognizable

    Convention and Visitors Bureau is

    important to the city. The Chamber will

    work to position Conway as a preferred

    destination for specific types of business

    travel and group sports, while working

    to grow the citys place as a regional

    center for shopping, dining, and


    Establish a group sports

    Outdoor Movie at Hendrix Village

    marketing strategy for the city utilizing all available resources (City of Conway,

    Conway High School, University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College, Central Baptist

    College, Conway Christian School, and St. Joseph Catholic Schools)

    Timeline: 2011

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 5 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Continue promoting Conway through television, print, and other advertising in the


    Timeline: Ongoing

    Create a plan for a downtown hotel/convention center/performing arts complex in

    downtown Conway

    Identify Sites

    Timeline: 2012

    Identify stakeholders/partners

    Timeline: 2013

    Develop conceptual plans

    Timeline: 2013

    Identify funding mechanisms

    Timeline: 2014


    A successful economic development program is

    the cornerstone of the Conway Area Chamber of

    Commerce and Conway Development

    Corporation. The economic impact of, and our

    roles in, business recruitment and expansion

    should be well known and easily communicated

    by the entire staff. Connecting the program to

    membership in the organization should be




    Southwestern Energy Regional Headquarters

    A strong, established business and industry program is an important piece of an overall

    economic development program. Understanding the local economy through company

    leadership is a barometer for the overall health of a community and provides opportunities to

    assist in growing those companies.

    Expand the scope of the established business and industry visitation program to include

    all major employers (adding retail, energy, services, etc.)

    Timeline: Annually

    Establish an Executive Forum (plant managers, facility managers, etc.) that meets at

    least three times a year

    Timeline: Annually

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 6 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    Much of the historic

    success of the CDC has

    been a large and diverse

    land inventory that the

    organization owned.

    Controlling property

    allows for quick decisions

    and aggressive incentive

    packages. The CDC should

    work to identify and

    control property for the

    citys economic

    development needs for the

    next several decades.

    Hewlett-Packard Building in The Meadows Office and Technology Park

    Identify potential industrial and office sites in the City of Conway that could or should

    be preserved for those uses and a plan to purchase or control them

    Timeline: 2012

    Lead the effort to redevelop the existing Conway Airport

    Work with City of Conway to determine ownership structure of property

    Timeline: 2012

    Select Master Planner

    Timeline: 2012

    Begin actively marketing the site

    Timeline: 2013

    Property becomes available for development

    Timeline: 2014

    Formally partner with neighboring communities/counties to identify regionally

    significant sites for development (Vilonia, Morrilton, Little Rock, etc.)

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Work with the City of Conway to establish a new economic development fund with

    public money to use in assisting with property acquisition and development

    Timeline: 2012

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 7 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    Understanding the economic development environment and how to influence appropriate

    audiences is important with limited marketing resources. The Chamber and CDC will prioritize

    marketing resources and take advantage of partnership opportunities as they exist.

    Continue participating in all cooperative, site consultant, marketing events with the

    Arkansas Economic Development Commission (Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta)

    Timeline: Annually

    Continue updating CDC website with relevant property and economic information to

    ensure it is a go to site for economic development information in Conway

    Timeline: Monthly

    Create a targeted marketing campaign for smaller companies that may not use site

    location consultants for location decisions

    Timeline: 2013


    The Conway business community has a long history of successful entrepreneurs. Several of the

    citys largest employers are home grown. With three institutions of higher education, the city is

    perfectly situated for additional entrepreneurial opportunities.

    Develop a local Guide to Doing Business document available in print and online

    Timeline: 2012

    Develop an incubator for knowledge-based companies and small businesses in

    downtown Conway

    Identify potential buildings/sites

    Timeline: 2012

    Identify funding mechanisms

    Timeline: 2012

    Create plan for implementation

    Timeline: 2013

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 8 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The majority of Chamber members are small businesses and a growing number are minority-

    owned. The Chamber should develop a strong small and minority business program to assist

    their growth and understand challenges facing them.

    Develop a robust small and minority business program

    Inventory and identify minority-owned businesses in the Chamber

    Timeline: 2012

    Develop a small business mentor program

    Timeline: 2012-2013

    Develop and implement a small business survey tool regarding local business


    Timeline: 2012

    Hire a full-time employee dedicated to small and minority business development

    Timeline: 2014


    Higher education has been the

    cornerstone of the citys

    economy for more than 100

    years. The Chamber has been

    involved in recruiting and

    supporting higher education

    opportunities since 1891. The

    Chamber will look for

    innovative ways to support the

    educational infrastructure of

    the community.

    Examine Toad Suck

    Daze scholarship

    Academic Signing Day

    programs and determine if they are still the highest and best use of festival proceeds

    with the proliferation of lottery scholarships (PreK, STEM, etc.)

    Present an official recommendation to the Toad Suck Daze Committee and

    Chamber Board

    Timeline: 2012

    Implement any proposed changes

    Timeline: 2013

    Grow student recognition programs building off Academic Signing Day

    Timeline: Ongoing

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 9 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is the front door for the community. Facilities should

    always reflect the progressive nature of the city and business community. With strategic

    partnerships increasing, the need for additional staff is increasing. Chamber leadership should

    have a master plan to accommodate growth. These facilities should include the Earl Rogers

    triangle property at Oak and Van Ronkle Streets to create a new entrance feature and park

    area for downtown Conway.

    Develop plans for future expansions of

    Chamber (new conference facility and

    suite of offices)

    Timeline: 2011

    Identify potential large donors to fund

    capital projects

    Timeline: 2011

    Secure funding and/or financing plan

    for construction of the expansion area

    Timeline: 2012-2013

    Construct Chamber expansion area

    Timeline: 2014

    Develop master plan for Earl Rogers

    Chamber Park

    Timeline: 2011

    Work with Rogers family and the City

    of Conway to secure property and

    revenue sources to construct

    improvements for Earl Rogers Chamber


    Conway Area Chamber of Commerce Building

    Timeline: 2013

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 10 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The Chamber has worked to position itself as the voice of business to all levels of government.

    Chamber staff will develop and maintain relationships with elected officials and staff. The

    Chamber will develop a Federal and State Program of Work and advocate for specific project

    completion. The Chamber will be a resource for small business

    interaction with local, state, and federal government.

    FAYETTEVILLE SHALE The development of the Fayetteville Shale in north central Arkansas

    has propelled Arkansas into a major energy-producing state.

    Conway and Faulkner County have been the recipients of hundreds

    of natural gas related jobs and the industry has helped the local

    economy grow during the last recession. Natural gas and energy

    issues at the state and federal levels have a direct impact on the

    economy of the area.

    Establish the Chamber as the lead community-based

    Drilling Activity in the

    Fayetteville Shale

    organization that advocates for the protection and future development of the

    Fayetteville Shale and natural gas/petroleum industry in Arkansas

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Lead other Chambers in the state and region in opposing any legislation that is harmful

    to the oil/gas industry at the state or federal level

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Establish the Chamber as the primary advocate for the use of Compressed Natural Gas

    in Arkansas

    Research and identify public and private opportunities for the construction of a

    CNG fueling station in Conway

    Timeline: 2012

    Acquire a CNG vehicle to use for educational purposes

    Timeline: 2011

    Establish, staff, and house the Fayetteville Shale Energy Education Council to become

    the statewide resource of scientific-based information about the natural gas industry in

    Arkansas prior to the 2013 legislative session.

    Timeline: 2012

    Establish a staff position to create a grass-roots network for the natural gas industry in

    the state prior to the 2013 legislative session.

    Timeline: 2012

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 11 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The Chamber and Conway Development Corporation have been integral partners with the City

    of Conway in the development and funding of major transportation projects. From site

    acquisition of the new Conway Airport to the expedited funding of the southern Conway

    interchange during the 2009 legislative session, both entities have had a direct impact on future

    transportation projects.

    Expedite funding for the completion of the new Conway Airport from the current

    schedule of 2015

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Advocate for and monitor construction schedule/funding of southern Conway


    Timeline: Ongoing

    Advocate for construction schedule/funding of Highway 25 relocation

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Advocate for expansion of and construction schedule/funding of Interstate 40 to six

    lanes between Conway and Little Rock

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Execute yearly fly-in trip to

    Washington, D.C. to promote

    unified local agenda to


    Timeline: Ongoing

    Study funding options for

    local transportation needs

    and recommend solution to

    Conway City Council

    Timeline: 2012

    Provide leadership and

    fundraising support for any

    city or school bond/sales tax

    initiative endorsed by

    Chamber and CDC boards

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Fly-In Trip to Washington, D.C.

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 12 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    Conway has had no comprehensive long range plan for the

    future. While the city has been very successful with strong

    leadership, Conway2025 provides the type of consolidated plan

    that allows the public to participate and requires accountability

    from city government and other organizations. Execution of the

    plan is imperative for the future growth and development of the

    city. Community leaders should also incorporate regular

    benchmarking visits to peer cities across the country to identify

    real world best practices for elements of the plan.

    Lead citywide effort for the implementation of Conway2025 initiatives, ensuring that

    goals have groups, organizations, or entities that are responsible for completion

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Communicate progress to the public via Faulkner County Business Journal, social

    media outlets, and Conway2025 website

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Identify a benchmark city and execute a trip for community leaders to learn about

    economic and community development best practices

    Timeline: Annually

    MARKETING The Chamber and CDC created a unified Conway brand in 2007. The Get Smart tagline and

    green color scheme is one of the most recognizable community brands in the state. The

    Chamber and CDC incorporate the elements of the brand into a variety of marketing and

    promotional activities. Initially, the four partner organizations (Chamber, CDC, A&P

    Commission, and Downtown Partnership) felt strongly about creating different icons for each

    organization. Those icons were created, but the Conway C was developed to market the

    overall brand to the outside world. The C has become the most recognizable icon for the

    community and should be used as the icon for all of the organizations.

    The economic vibrancy of the Little RockNorth Little RockConway MSA continues to gain

    national exposure, and the Chamber must ensure that the communitys message is consistent

    and unique within the region. Conway is the youngest, most educated community in the metro

    area, and the Conway brand recognizes these attributes.

    Eliminate the individual organization icons and use the Conway C for each


    Timeline: 2013

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 13 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Educate the membership and the general population (via social media and traditional

    sources) on regional and national recognition regarding the economy, educational

    institutions, or quality of life initiatives

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Monitor production schedules and selection criteria for national recognition (Inc. 5000,

    Sperlings Best Places, etc.) and facilitate application on behalf of the community and

    member businesses

    Timeline: 2012

    Create a strategy for online reputation management; monitor social media and third-

    party websites (Wikipedia, etc.) to correct dated or inaccurate information

    Timeline: 2012

    Increasingly utilize social media and other electronic communication to promote

    Chamber activities while implementing cost savings

    Timeline: Ongoing


    The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corporation should

    be nationally competitive, nationally recognized organizations in their respective fields. Strong

    organizations have strong administrative controls, diverse revenue sources, relevant products

    and services, and inspired team members. With a rapidly growing community, both

    organizations must constantly examine their roles within the community to ensure future



    The Chamber and CDC should have strong administrative procedures in place. Employees

    should be equipped for success and work in an environment that sets clear expectations, allows

    creativity, and rewards success.

    Review and update employee handbook yearly, benchmarking against peer Chambers

    and regional employers

    Timeline: Annually

    Examine organizational structure and realign priorities according to needs

    Timeline: Annually

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 14 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Develop yearly goals and objectives for each employee based on changing nature of

    organizational responsibilities

    Timeline: Annually

    Offer competitive salaries and benefits packages for employees that are competitive

    with peer organizations and with the local market

    Timeline: Annually

    Complete U.S Chambers Accreditation Process with a goal of achieving a five-star


    Timeline: 2011

    EVENTS Events continue to provide

    strong revenue streams for

    the Chamber. A successful

    event should project a

    positive image for the

    Chamber, relate to the

    mission, and be profitable.

    Toad Suck Daze Festival

    Review strengths and weaknesses of each event yearly and recommend and implement

    changes when necessary

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Create new events as needed that are relevant to the market

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Examine ways to maximize profits at each event; each event should have a profit

    margin of at least 50 percent

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Ensure continuity of events, regardless of staff turnover, through a thoroughly written

    execution guide for each event

    Timeline: 2012

    Examine Toad Suck Daze to ensure it is a nationally competitive festival and is

    relevant to the community

    Committee structure, entertainment and activities are representative of the


  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 15 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Festival layout is adequate and changes as needed with continued downtown


    Committee looks for new ways to involve downtown business owners and


    Operations and public safety measures are examined for viability

    City employees and public safety officials are honored each year at the City

    Employee Appreciation Event

    Timeline: Annually

    FINANCE The Chamber and CDC are financially stable organizations but as both entities grow, the need

    for additional financial support is evident.

    Monitor the need for additional finance staffing

    Timeline: Annually

    Establish a $100,000 reserve fund for building renovations

    Timeline: 2015

    Establish an additional $100,000 reserve fund for operations

    Timeline: 2015

    Work toward 200 face-to-face Blueprint visits with members in the fourth quarter to

    establish investment levels for the coming year

    Timeline: 2013

    Dedicated full-time sales professional on staff

    Timeline: 2012

    Implement a plan to fund economic development operations without depending on any

    land sales

    Timeline: 2013 MEMBERSHIP

    The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has experienced tremendous growth in membership.

    The Chamber should consistently rank in the top 5 largest in the state (both by number of

    members and revenue). Retention should be a priority and all programming should add value

    to the membership experience. The membership division will benchmark regional best practices

    to evaluate current offerings.

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 16 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

    Grow total membership from 1,300 in 2010 to 1,600 in 2015

    Timeline: 2015

    Grow total membership revenue from $325,000 in 2010 to $425,000 in 2015

    Timeline: 2015

    Maintain an average retention rate of 80 percent

    Timeline: Annually

    Evaluate programming to ensure it is relevant to members through various mechanisms

    (surveys, personal visits, etc.)

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Continue refining member contact program so that each member has personal contact

    with staff at least once a year

    Timeline: Ongoing

    PUBLICATIONS The Chamber has historically outsourced all

    publications. Taking publications in house provides

    more non-dues revenue and gives the Chamber

    more control of the end product. Opportunities

    exist to expand the number of publications to

    communicate the Chambers brand within the city

    and region, through the creation of Conway

    Publications, Inc.

    Create, sell, and write Faulkner County

    Business Journal in conjunction with the

    Log Cabin Democrat

    Timeline: Monthly

    Develop a regionally relevant Resource

    Guide that includes relocation information

    and a membership directory

    Timeline: Annually beginning 2011

    Grow Conway Publications, Inc. into at

    least $200,000 of revenue annually

    Timeline: 2013

    Faulkner County Business Journal

  • Conway Development Corporation Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

    Page 17 of 17 2011-2015 Strategic Plan


    The Chamber and CDC Boards encourage staff to participate in continuing education

    opportunities and training. Professional designations are an expectation for Chamber and CDC

    employees as they are applicable.

    Develop a sales culture among all staff members through sales training for new

    employees and refresher courses for existing employees

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Create a plan for all director-level and senior-level Chamber employees to attend and

    graduate from U.S. Chamber Institute by budgeting to send six (6) employees per year

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Develop an incentive plan for all senior-level employees to work toward CCE and CEcD

    certifications where appropriate

    Timeline: 2012

    Complete IOM designation for at least eight (8) staff members

    Timeline: 2015

    Complete CCE designation for at least three (3) staff members

    Timeline: 2013

    Complete CEcD designation for at least three (3) staff members

    Timeline: 2014

    TECHNOLOGY The Chamber should always be aware of and implement new technology to benefit its

    members. The citys young, educated demographic should be reflected in the Chambers Web

    presence, utilization of social media, database, and educational opportunities for members.

    Implement WebLink as new database/website

    Timeline: 2011

    Incorporate social media in all aspects of the organization

    Timeline: Ongoing

    Offer educational opportunities for members on social media and other technologies

    Timeline: Annually