The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and our family of businesses and organizations continue to bring power to our members and their thousands of employees. This power and confidence in our economic future start new businesses, grow our economy, and advocate for an improved quality of life in Delaware County.
But the real power is how members plug into the Chamber. As we start 2023, we have 359 members, including 45 new investors and a 90% renewal rate, representing over 10,000 employees! Over 760 people attended our 41 events. With nearly 26,000 newsletters opened, a social media reach of over 60,000 views, nearly 100 radio and television programs produced, and 61 videos published, the Chamber is effectively delivering our message of business unity and community prosperity.
The Chamber continues to lead initiatives to build more resilient communities. Understanding that transportation is often a barrier to sustainable employment, we partner with human service agencies, healthcare, transportation providers, government agencies, transportation consultants and others to recommend public transportation options in the county. We also manage the business operations of WIOX Community Radio, supporting the efforts of nearly 80 community volunteers who serve as program hosts and back-office staff to keep this important source of information and entertainment broadcasting. Our nine-month Leaderful Delaware Emerging Leaders program prepares the next generation of civic leaders to drive community change. Much of what we accomplish is through collaboration. Working with Delaware Opportunities and over 30 businesses, government agencies, and organizations, our annual campaign collected and distributed 2200 toys to Delaware County families.
Despite difficulties with County officials, we successfully lobbied the Delaware County Board of Supervisors to reformulate the method to calculate County sales tax on fuel purchases, reducing the cost to business owners and consumers by nearly ten cents per gallon. Our relationships with state officials remain excellent and, working with business advocacy groups across New York State, we successfully lobbied Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to enact a program providing tax credit of 50% of qualifying expenses up to a maximum of $25,000 in tax credits based on qualifying expenses of $50,000.
As we look forward to 2023, our priorities for action are centered on three key areas–ADVOCATE, CONNECT, and GROW.
Effective advocacy is founded on accurate and substantiated information. The Chamber remains a locus for facts and primary resources on issues important to business owners. Toward that end, we will continue to engage elected and other public officials at all levels of government to ensure that input from business owners is included in public policy discussions. Also, as a trusted source of reliable information, we will continue to provide resources and contacts to members seeking assistance with municipal officials.
Connecting members to resources needed to expand, business recognition and promotion, and high-engagement networking opportunities are all ways we bring measurable value to Chamber members. We offer many valuable benefits that may be extended to member employees, aiding in staff retention. We will also create an Ambassador group dedicated to welcoming new members, engaging existing members, and making Chamber events more successful and enjoyable for everyone. Benefits of participation include meeting business and community leaders, chances to promote business and community growth, potential media coverage, as well as personal and professional recognition.
We leverage the knowledge of members, regional government, education, business, and non-profit stakeholders to address critical county needs with an eye toward improving our quality of life and supporting business growth. In addition to continuing our efforts in exploring public transportation options and molding the next generation of civic leaders, the Chamber will actively connect employers with schools and students. We will strengthen business connections with local schools, including mentoring and shadowing experiences, advisory board participation, career day presentations, and promotion of Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential. Also, working with education, human service agencies, and other chambers, we will initiate a public conversation centered on removing barriers to employment for county residents. We will create resources for use by business owners and hiring managers on topics including Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Fair Chance Hiring, as well as Employee Mental Health and Well-Being.
Admittedly, this is an ambitious agenda. However, especially over the past two-plus years, our business community has stepped up to meet unexpected challenges. From workforce shortage to supply chain issues to inflation to economic downturns, change increased at an unprecedented rate. We all faced these challenges in big and small ways. The key factor, though, is that we often did it together.
It has become increasingly clear to me how much we need one another. How much we need networks and advocates. How #StongerTogether is so much more than a tagline. It is the relationships, shared visions, and trust among individuals, teams, and organizations that holds us together.
You can choose to be the glue that sustains our communities. Joining the Chamber in its mission is a great first step.