By Steve Sears
For a peek at what the meaning of the words worthwhile, opportunity, and community are, you’ll unveil the definition by visiting the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce website.
In fact, if you are a business in Mount Olive or the surrounding area, you can live that meaning by becoming a member.
Chamber President Harry Browne, owner of One Legacy Financial Group, LLC, is in his third year as head of the Chamber, which has almost 200 member businesses, and he himself has been a member for nine years, calling it a great business move. “The $125 Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce membership fee is the single best marketing money you can invest in your business. Where else can you invest in marketing your business for the equivalent of $10.42 per month ($125 yearly)? I get to meet a tremendous amount of people, and it works.”
The key is to become a member and participate. Many types of businesses join the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, and Browne’s goal, which is also the goal of the entire Chamber, is to welcome more members. The group finished 2018 with 173 members. So far in 2019, nine new members joined in January and two in February, bringing the new total to 185. Browne suspects the new memberships are due to word-of-mouth from existing members, as well as advertising being seen in Mount Olive Life and radio spots or interviews on WRNJ. “Let the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce help you build your business,” Browne encourages. “We have people and businesses up in Sussex County, we have more and more coming up from Warren County, we have some that come over from Roxbury, we have some that come from Long Valley…we don’t block or prohibit anyone from joining. There’s no vetting committee or anything; if you want to spend your money and come join us, that’s fine.”
He then makes a key point. “If you want to have a good experience, you need to participate.”
There’s much to take part in. Consider the variety offered of monthly meetings. Marketing in the Morning is held every third Wednesday, Women in Business on second Tuesdays, the Young Professional Group meets on the first Thursday, and Lunch and Learn is held on the month’s fourth Tuesday.
In addition to the four monthly meetings, the yearly calendar is dotted with networking and comradery events. In January, at a Job Fair at the Holiday Inn held in conjunction with the Mount Olive Economic Advisory Committee, and over 21 local companies were present offering jobs and 225 job seekers attended. Featured in February was the annual Breakfast with the Mayors with over 50 attendees, hosted and sponsored by Longhorn Steakhouse.
Rounding out the year are:
- March – New Member Orientation Breakfast at Adams Restaurant – learn how to leverage your chamber membership to the fullest extent and speak with the networking pros. Also, the 5th Annual New Jersey Devils Hockey Trip will take place. Round trip bus to and from the Prudential Center, on-board sandwich, craft beer from local breweries, and a post-game photo on the ice. Open to members and non-members (general public), only 100 tickets are available, and a sell-out is definite.
- April/May – 2nd Annual Marketing Symposium – Free to Chamber members, listen and learn from 10-12 marketing professionals on assorted topics.
- May/June – Annual Business and Humanitarian Awards – The Chamber recognizes a member business leader and local humanitarian at the corporate offices of Audio-Visual Dynamics . Also awarded at this event is the Presidents Award and two $500 member scholarships are given to a child of a MOACC member entering year 2 of college. The evening is free to members.
- June – Annual High School Scholarship Awards, where a $750 scholarship is awarded to a Mount Olive High School and Hackettstown High School Senior.
- September/October – Annual Oliver Awards, marketing recognition to the membership in assorted categories, hosted by Wild West City in Netcong.
- December – Free to members Annual Holiday Party held at Vasa Park. During the evening, Board election results are announced.
There are also additional exclusive benefits and resources for MOACC members:
- Member On-line directory with business categorization and your supplied business description and logo for our scrolling member web site banner
- Member 2 Member discount program – seeking to drive M2M business opportunities directly to you via exclusive member discounts and offers, the M2M program is now in 2019. Browne explains. “I’m trying to drive members to start looking internally,” says Browne. “They have a service, something they need to purchase, look inside the Chamber first, and then I’m encouraging all members to promote on it. That’s exactly how I feel and how I view things. Make is seem as if there always has to be a benefit to being a member.”
- Member news and posts on the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page – selected businesses are afforded the opportunity to create their own periodic message/sale business announcement.
- Member announcement section (general announcement including job offer posts) via the MOACC web site Announcement section
- Member discounts to all of MOACC events – MOACC members always play less than non-members to attend/participate in any event/activity hosted/offered by MOACC
All of the before-mentioned events and benefits enable members to build (and continue to build) their businesses.
Browne likes to use a key word: build. The Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, whom he coins as “one of the best kept secrets in North West New Jersey,” has always been about building its membership, and building a relationship with the community. “It’s (the Chamber) got deep roots and it has legs,” says Browne, referring to the 1955 beginnings when the it was initially known as the Budd Lake Chamber of Commerce and Vernon Geary served as organizational lead. It has also been known as the Mount Olive Businessmen’s Association (1955-1979), Mount Olive Businessmen’s Association and Chamber of Commerce (1972 and 1972), Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce (1973-1982) and has lived by its current name since 1983. “But it’s come a long way. Back in he day, Hackettstown actually had their own Chamber of Commerce and it was pretty active.” The neighboring community of businesses are now part of what Browne calls a “bigger net.” “It’s the Mount Olive area, so we have a lot of businesses that are literally coming up the road from Hackettstown, but we’re (also) coming down to them, doing a lot if cross promoting, trying to do events around the Hackettstown\Mount Olive area. Even the Director of Hackettstown BID (Business Improvement District) is a member of our Chamber. We promote and support their events, and vice-versa.”
The group itself also gets involved in other major business organizations. “We’re spreading into a number of other things. The Community Advisory Panel is run out of pretty much the big companies out if the International Trade Zone; we participate in that, so we usually have one or two representatives there, and we get involved in a couple of community projects with them a year. We get to meet a lot of the key players in big organizations, so that will spill over and help our Young Professionals group, our Women in Business group, things of that nature. Then there’s also the Economic Development Committee out of Mount Olive that we participate in.”
Then there’s the community outreach, such as Grand Openings and Ribbon Cuttings with township Mayors, sponsorship of assorted events by the Mount Olive Recreation Department and Hackettstown Business Improvement District, and members of MOACC board and committees participate in a number of local community groups and association, like the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) and the Mount Olive Economic Advisory Committee (MOEDC.
To learn more in-depth about the Mount olive Area Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.mountolivechambernj.com.
Browne offers a final thought. “Being a member of a chamber of commerce shows you care about the local community that you are doing business with. Attending a periodic network or learning event let’s those members know you want to be part of the community and interested in not only learning more but in meeting other business professionals who also care – longevity in business is not about the sale you made today but more about the clients/customers you have created & earned over 20 years or more.”