With 2015 in full swing, local Chambers of Commerce are geared up for a new year and reflecting on a successful 2014.
Last year, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed a number of new faces, including Executive Director Kristie Maravalli, who joined the Chamber originally as director of membership.
“Honestly, the year itself was the highlight,” said Maravalli. “There had been some turnover prior to this year in our offices, and it felt like we were able to steady the ship. We made some great strides, and all of our events were very well run and they were well attended.
“It’s exciting now that we’ve all been here for a year that we can really start putting our mark on it a little bit more.”
The Bethany-Fenwick Chamber started two new ventures in 2014 that Maravalli hopes will continue.
“We started a Prime for Maturity group, which deals with elder-care and retirement that we’ll be building. We did a marketing series for our members that was very informational, and a free resource, as well.
“We did it everywhere from the Dickens Parlour Theatre to the new hotel in Bethany. It was pretty neat how you can piggyback with other businesses and/or events to market your business. We were really happy with that.”
In the coming year, Maravalli said, the Chamber plans to launch a revamped website, to really “push the Quiet Resorts.”
“We’re also working to be a better small-business resource. I feel that’s an opportunity where we have an opportunity to grow. We’re doing a big workshop in March, and we’ll be partnering with SCORE in the fall for another seminar. Those are the two things that we have on our plate now.”
Currently, the Chamber has more than 700 members, whom Maravalli said benefit from the various activities organized by the Chamber.
“Our networking events are tremendous. If you look at any one of our members who attend between five to 10 networking events a year, it really helps promote their business. If our members work their membership, it really works for them. We get that from a lot of different businesses who belong to different Chambers in the area — that networking is really a strength of ours,” she said.
We really do try to serve as an advocate. We’re very active in the State Route 26 project, making sure that businesses’ needs are being heard and taken care of, when possible.”
Maravalli said the Chamber team has “a lot of fun” in their job, with an internal mission to help connect members, and she noted that new members are always welcome.
“People should come visit us. We have one of the best workspaces in the area. We love visitors. Everyone is welcome to come down and visit us and see what we’re all about.”
The Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce also had a successful 2014, with signature events including the second annual Millsboro Country Festival and the Central Sussex Bridal Show.
“Overall, I think we did well this year with the events that we had and membership,” said Executive Director Amy Simmons. “I think all of the events we had last year were very successful. Starting off with the bridal show, we had over 40 vendors here and 70-some brides, with each bringing one or more people with them. We had a great turnout with that.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the bridal show, which will be held on March 15 with the theme “A Platinum Affair.”
“We’re really going to try to make this one special,” said Simmons, adding that there would be door prizes, a bridal fashion show and dozens of vendors.
Simmons said the Chamber’s annual Easter Egg Hunt had more than 300 kids attend in 2014. The annual golf tournament at Baywood Greens was well attended, as well.
Currently, Simmons said, the Chamber has approximately 170 members.
“I’m hoping for an increase in membership,” she said, noting that the Chamber offers a number of advertising opportunities to its members. “We do provide quite a few opportunities for reduced-cost advertising on our website. There are always opportunities to help sponsor events.
New in 2015, Simmons said, the Chamber will be hosting a business expo in April.
“I’m excited about that,” she said. “One of the board members, Kevin Turner, had suggested it to me, and it had been suggested it the past.”
During the year, Simmons said, she hopes the Chamber will be a resource to the downtown area becoming revitalized.
“I would really like to work on trying to boost the downtown. We’ve got some great businesses, and we’ve got great restaurants downtown. We’d just like to see a few more businesses come in.”
Simmons said she is happy with the successes of the Chamber in 2014 and looks forward to its successes in 2015.
“I hope we continue the success that we’ve had. I want to see the Chamber grow,” said Simmons. “Overall, we had a successful year, and the board has been pleased with the past year and is looking forward to another successful year.”
For more information on the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, visit www.bethanyfenwick.org or call (302) 539-2100. The Bethany-Fenwick Chamber is located at 36913 Coastal Highway, just north of Fenwick Island. For more information on the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce, visit www.millsborochamber.com or call (302) 934-6777. The Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce is located in the Millsboro Town Center at 322 Wilson Highway, in downtown Millsboro.