2020’s COVID-19 pandemic significantly limited execution of the Chamber’s 2020 Business Plan, budget and adversely affected businesses locally as well as worldwide. Though an economic rebound is anticipated in 2021, it will not come quickly nor without further challenges.
As a result, this business plan will focus on the first 6 months of 2021 and will be re-evaluated mid-year to better align with conditions at that time.
In 2017, The Savannah Area Chamber undertook a new strategic planning initiative. This effort examined programs and activities of the past and focused on the future role our area business community can best contribute to making the Coastal Region a “business healthy” environment. This is achieved by supporting existing business investment and building a stronger foundation for increased future business investment – thus producing healthy jobs for citizen employment.
With strategic planning and prioritization in place from 2018 through 2020’s work, the following 2021 Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Business Plan maintains a focus on those priorities. Our goal is the development of alternative strategies and tactics to best position the Chamber and business resources in ways to advance the community for decades into the future. These initiatives will make doing business in the Savannah area fair and predictable, as competition for investment continues to increase.
2018+ Strategic Plan Priorities
1. Develop a Quality Workforce
2. Governmental Advocacy
3. Leadership Development
4. Regional Focus on Common Needs
5. Grow Diversity and Outreach
6. Grow and Support Small Business
7. Support Military within the Region
8. Greater Membership Feedback
9. Vision & Mission Statements~ Amended 2018.
Developing a Quality Workforce
The Chamber will review, evaluate, and prioritize programs and actions that support the business community’s future workforce needs. Programs to include, but are not limited to:
- Long-term initiatives that address systemic problems, such as Pre/Pre-K.
- Short-term initiatives that grow the capability of the current workforce, such as training and internships. • Work with and support Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) to define and prepare the workforce of the future.
- Evaluate the long-term capital needs of the SCCPSS in consideration of the extension/renewal of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST).
- Help grow business partnerships with individual SCCPSS schools.
- Assist SPLOST’s new Eastside Early Learning Center (ELC) in its planning and formulation.
- Assist and facilitate business engagement with Georgia Southern University and Savannah State University as a workforce and quality of life creators in the Coastal Region.
- Support a greater linkage between businesses needs and technical education at the public school and technical school levels.
- Market the State of Georgia’s workforce programs to area employers.
Represent the voice of the business community to help assure government fosters a pro-business environment allowing the state and region to be supportive of business investment and growth potential.
- Advocate for the Coastal Region’s businesses at the state level and assist Savannah Chamber members with successfully navigating city, county, and state business regulations, as well as working to reduce the complexity of those regulations.
- Develop separate local, state, and federal legislative agenda(s), as necessary, of issues important to coastal and Chatham County businesses.
- Develop local legislative state delegation support, in part through a successful Eggs & Issues legislative event.
- Conduct targeted visits to Georgia’s 2021 Legislative Session in support of the 2021 Chamber State legislative agenda, as a Savannah-Chatham Day event, as structured in the past, will not be feasible due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Advocate federal issues important to area businesses, including but not limited, to military issues, coordinate visits to Washington, D.C. as necessary and to develop relationships with Georgia’s newly elected senators.
- Advocate for local and MWBE procurement participation at the county, city, school government levels, as well as process and qualification consistency.
- Advocate for transparent communications regarding SPLOST and ESPLOST, including the monitoring of the project lists, status, changes, delays, completions, as well as MWBE and ‘local’ participation, etc.
- Work closely with SEDA and the World Trade Center – Savannah, to encourage existing international business success and attract new business. Also support growth in the film and television production industry through the growth of economic impact and employment.
- Engage and monitor community planning through serving on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
- Continue to assist and monitor major community economic development projects, such as the expansion of the Savannah Convention Center, Canal District and new arena, West River Street, the proposed convention hotel, Eastern Wharf, The Reserve, Chatham/Savannah Manufacturing Center, Rockingham Farms, etc.
- Leadership Savannah: Conduct eight diverse programs over the class year, recruit 75+ candidates and select 35+ for the 2021 class. Seek to refresh programs, topics and presenters.
- Develop and implement a Community Leadership Orientation Initiative for new business executives joining the community.
- Develop more complete leadership linkages with coastal counties to better broaden a regional understanding of needs (i.e. Leadership Southeast Georgia, Bryan, Effingham, Bulloch, Liberty counties, etc.).
- Leverage the CEO Council to become more engaged and proactive on community issues.
Regionally Growing a Healthy Community
- Leverage the merger of Georgia Southern and the Armstrong Campus to better impact area needs, such as regionalism, leadership, inclusivity and impacting the workforce of the future.
- Support the new president of Savannah State University as well as their efforts to prepare a workforce for the future.
- Explore the development of a meeting process to periodically engage coastal area leaders (business and civic) to identify regional needs and issues, thus reducing silos.
- Assist and support the police departments in Chatham County with linkages to business resources and input. • Assist the Savannah Chatham Homeless Authority to improve outcomes.
Grow Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Outreach
The Savannah Area Chamber positions diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as critical for business development and growth. With DEI, we grow our talent, resources, and the business opportunities necessary for the Savannah area to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The Savannah Area Chamber supports these values through our polices, practices, membership services and community engagement. The Savannah Area Chamber will,
- Retain board-level involvement to assist with the recruitment of new members. • Encourage diversity within Chamber event attendance.
- Increase minority business membership.
- Foster membership among manufacturing and industrial businesses.
Grow and Support Small Business
Face to face communication and networking was severely reduced in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resuming face-to-face networking is a high priority for 2021. Safety remains of critical importance.
- Continue Business On-The-Move events featuring member small businesses.
- Continue larger evening Business Connection events.
- Continue monthly Power Hour Lunches, Coffee Chats and Courses and Conversations series.
- Strive to conduct a Business Expo component in the second half of 2021.
- Evaluate and conduct the Business Awards Banquet, pending COVID constraints.
- Resume Speed Networking events pending COVID-19 constraints.
- Coordinate with advocacy staff, problem solving for small businesses as they face various governmental regulation obstacles and recover from COVID-19 business interruptions.
Support Military within the Region
- Work to help assure the retention and growth of the military’s economic impact within the Coastal Region.
- Continue support for Chatham County’s partnership in a sustainable region-wide strategy that includes professional representation in Washington, D.C., that aids in communicating with national decision-makers, and partnerships with regional and state partners advocation for the national importance of strategic assets located within the Coastal Region.
- Work closely with the Southeast Friends of Stewart and Hunter (SEGAFFSH), the CRTC, 165th Air Guard and the State Military Affairs Council.
- Represent the business voice in preparation of a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and/or as the services evaluate/consider facilities realignment.
- Support 165th’s effort to secure new upgraded C-130J’s.
- Support Hunter Army Airfield’s effort to replace aged aircraft hangers through MILCON funding.
- Conduct meetings of area military command leaders focusing on business issues, military personnel recognition and appreciation, volunteerism, and opportunities for business assistance.
Enhancing Membership Engagement and Feedback
- Periodically survey membership to gauge needs and opinions about important pending community and business issues.
- Retain 90% of existing membership annually.
- Generate 250+ new members and encourage greater diversity within the membership and committees.
- Produce a weekly newsletter for members, keeping them abreast of community and business interest.
- Maintain member directory, events calendar membership applications, news, relocation resource and more on SavannahChamber.com.