By MICAH WILKINS
August 6, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Ringing in 20 years as an official organization, the Northeast Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its anniversary by shepherding in a new look, and some new ideas.
The chamber not only developed brand new logos and images for itself, but has also undergone some organizational restructuring, according to Bobbi Baker Hughes, the president of the chamber.
“We are putting a new face on Independence Avenue and in the Northeast,” Baker Hughes said.
The rebranding efforts, according to the Chamber’s Executive Director Rebecca Koop, are meant to bring more visibility to the group, whose mission is to support economic development in the Northeast.
“We’ve never had a chance to brand and advertise in the Northeast,” Koop said. “So many people don’t know there’s a chamber in this area. It’s our goal to let people know we exist.”
The Northeast has millions of dollars of buying power according to Jon Henderson, the current Chair of the Chamber, who has been with the group since the beginning. However, much of that money has been going to businesses in other parts of the city.
“The Northeast needed an organization that’s promoting business and economic opportunity in the area,” Henderson said.
Since the chamber was formed in 1994, other groups and programs have also been developed to support the economic restructuring of the Northeast. The Community Improvement District (CID), a political subdivision within the Northeast, and the Historic Northeast 501(c)(3) nonprofit, along with the chamber, all work together as a “three-legged stool,” Baker Hughes said, to address issues within the community in a holistic way.
According to Baker Hughes, this, is one aspect that sets the Northeast Chamber of Commerce apart from other chambers.
“Sometimes chambers are very old men’s clubs, and are very selective and it’s all about the money,” Baker Hughes said. “Our chamber feels that it’s all about the community.”
With such a diverse population, the chamber hopes to support the various vendors by focusing on creating an “international marketplace” in the Northeast. The chamber provides feedback and advice to both new and established businesses.
“We hope to educate our businesses on good practices so that they can market themselves, their product and their stores,” Koop said.
With around 100 paid members, in addition to 25 honorary members, the chamber gives business owners an opportunity to network and support one another through its monthly chamber meetings, in addition to providing advice.
“It takes an army to reach all these businesses,” Koop said. “As the saying goes, you eat the elephant one bite at a time. We’ve been chewing up this elephant over the last 20 years.”