OSWEGO, NY – Greg Mills, executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, shared the chamber’s vision with members of the Oswego County Legislature recently.
Speaking at the legislature’s April meeting, Mills said he “had the honor” of being named the chamber’s executive director back in October.
“At that time, I realized there was a great opportunity in front of me to represent the communities of Oswego, Fulton, Phoenix and the other outlying areas where businesses are existing that need the support of the chamber,” he said.
It has been a challenge, he admitted.
“We often struggle to find funding and resources to help make us strong and sustain what we are as a representative of the businesses in our community,” he told the legislators. “I believe in the community. I believe in who we represent. And, I believe in making it a stronger place, not only to do business, but to live and raise a family.”
It’s about building partnerships; working together to support our businesses and improve the communities, he added.
“When people look at the chamber and say, ‘what can the chamber do for me?’ It is also we have to ask what can you do for us and help support us to represent you? It’s about networking, connecting, identifying opportunities that help lead to better situations for jobs and better situations for people to reside here. And also, to lead to want to move here and live here,” Mills said.
What’s new at the chamber? he asked rhetorically.
Quite honestly – everything, he said.
When he came on board, there was one staff member still working at the chamber. That person decided to take another position.
“Within a couple weeks, there was one person. That was me,” he said. “Fortunately, as things evolved, a young lady that had worked at the chamber for a number of years prior to that, her job was eliminated at the Red Cross. And so Danielle Hayden came back to the chamber. She had been employed eight years by the chamber prior to her tenure at the Red Cross.”
At one point, he wondered what he was going to do next. And then, “an angel fell out of the sky and was there to help me.”
“We formed a great team. We’re looking forward to working together, working for you and working with you to help support the businesses in our community,” he said.
They will look for resources, identify opportunities, reach out to people, make connections and facilitate networking and establish those connections so they can prosper and be stronger to work together to build better relationship and partnerships for the businesses that the chamber represents, he said.
“Our job going forward, quite honestly, is to build faith and trust and confidence in who we are as we represent the business communities in Oswego, Fulton and Oswego County. We have to advocate for each and every business that we represent whether they are small or large, whether they are new or they are old. Everyone of our membership we need to support,” he said.
The chamber will also reach out to other businesses and hopefully strengthen its membership, he added.
Sharing the message of the chamber; reaching out and asking, “What can we do for you?” is important, he said.
They have done a number of things trying to change how the chamber represents businesses.
“As we look at our membership, it is broken down almost 500 members now with half of those members being from the greater Oswego area, about a quarter of them being from Fulton. And we represent businesses in Syracuse, Phoenix, Hannibal, Mexico and Pulaski as well,” he said.
The chamber also puts on events such as the Great Pumpkin Festival, Fulton Jazz Fest, the farmers’ market, golf tournaments, Project Bloom in Oswego and a number of other events.
Since there are just two people in the office right now, they have contracted with other parties to conduct the events, he noted.
By getting out and speaking to groups like the legislature, Mills said he hopes to spread the word about the chamber and build more partnerships.
“What can we do for you? It’s for you and about you. We’re here to do the best we can to be a representative of all businesses. To be there when that small business that’s making the product that they make, they’re doing a great job. They need an advocate, they need a voice, they need a presence. The chamber of commerce hopes to be that presence,” he said. “We ask what can we do? But you also have to ask what can you do for yourself. Please come forward … if you’re having issues, the chamber can be a part of resolving those issues.”
For more information about the chamber or to become a member, call 315/343-7681.