If you want to know what someone is thinking then you need to ask them. That is why we routinely survey our membership to ensure that we at the Chamber are fulfilling our members’ needs. In October, just prior to the election, we asked our members to complete a 25-question survey to help us glean the successes and challenges facing the business community and here are our findings.
Our local economy is strengthening. We were excited that most conveyed economic improvements with a majority of the 155 respondents reporting an increase in sales revenue over the last two years. They are also optimistic about 2017, with about half planning to add employees and 66% planning to expand their products or services.
Providing value for members’ investment is always top of mind for our Board of Directors and staff. Where our members find the most value is networking and the ability to build relationships, receiving information important to the business community, and advocating on local, state, and federal government issues. Other importance responsibilities of the Chamber are helping to enhance the community, representing the interests of businesses with the government, and helping to retain and grow existing jobs.
In a previous article we outlined the budding partnership between the East St. Tammany Chamber and the St. Tammany West Chamber. 67% of the survey respondents answered that the partnership is a positive step and a move forward for our parish.
We did inquire about issues of concern and the response was the very familiar problems of sales tax, property tax, health insurance and flood insurance. Another issue of concern is the Marketplace Fairness Act, which has been before Congress since 2013. If passed, this would enable states to collect taxes on Internet sales, thus allowing a more level playing field for our local businesses.
We value the time taken by the 155 respondents and we continue to be optimistic about our local business community. While we will always have challenges, right now it appears that 2017 will be a good year for St. Tammany businesses.