New director says goal is to keep chamber moving – at speed

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local

The future of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce is … to keep things status quo for the time being, new chamber Executive Director told members at the organization’s monthly Forum Lunch Friday, Jan. 31, at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.
Grizzle, who took over the role in January following the death last year of previous director – and her own good friend – Shelley Garrett, said she is “truly grateful and honored to be here.”
She and various chamber committee chairs outlined some of the activities going on in the organization.
Chamber President Tom Oliver noted that the general chamber meeting hasn’t been held during the forum lunch in recent years, but chamber officials decided that with the transition it would be a good way to start off the year.
Grizzle said the chamber numbers close to 400 members and Finance Committee member Jolene Watson said it is in good enough financial shape that it plans to devote $14,000 to parking lot upgrades.

WHOOPS, HOW DID THAT GET THERE? Grizzle jokes about a photo that slipped into her report, showing her (left) and her sister Mary, a longtime chamber employee, as children.
Photo by Scott Swanson

Grizzle said she and board members agreed that her first year should be about maintaining the “status quo,” – “don’t screw anything up.”
She said one goal is to document what goes into chamber activities such as the Distinguished Service Awards banquet, which will be held March 6 this year, the Biz Expo and the annual golf tournament.
“A lot of things were just in Shelley’s head,” Grizzle said. “We don’t have Shelley’s head; we have mine. She was great.”
Garrett’s success in organizing events came because “she was a great marketer – she had the secret sauce,” Grizzle added.
She said she plans to document how events are organized “so if something happens to me, you can pull the book off the shelf.”
Also, she said, documentation will make it easier to analyze and gauge success.
“The Biz Expo is great. It’s so successful. We think it’s successful. How do we define that? We have 1,500 people this year. Is that successful?”
Grizzle, who serves on Lebanon’s City Council, said the chamber will remain a “politically neutral” organization but it “does have business interests” that will be communicated to politicians.
“I will be networking with the city, networking with your legislators, making sure that Lebanon is on the radar,” she said.
She plans to publish legislative updates in the chamber’s monthly newsletter, she added – “purely informational: ‘Here’s your legislator,’ ‘here’s who to talk to.’”
Grizzle said she also plans to “articulate” the value of chamber membership to businesses and nonprofits who aren’t participating.
“You know why you’re here,” she told the crowd at the lunch, noting that statistics indicate that consumers are significantly more likely to do business with chamber of commerce members in various fields – choosing a restaurant, buying a car, buying insurance. “The chamber has a lot of value for you as a business person. Why is that? How do you articulate that?”
The meeting was sprinkled with jokes, most of them coming from Grizzle, and at the end members began, almost spontaneously, volunteering why they thought the chamber is successful: “inclusive;” “a commitment to working with each other;” “no one is a stranger;” “the most positive chamber I’ve ever dealt with;” “supportive;” “engaged in the community;” “we know what’s going on;” “we help people;” “welcoming” and more.
“I think Lebanon is unique, wonderful,” Grizzle said. “My door is always open. The board has charged me to meet one-on-one with chamber members. You need to know we value you.”