Leaders of a local business group are trying to get a pulse on how well they’re serving entrepreneurs here, especially in light of a number of changes to the group in recent months.
Using a seven-question survey, the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development is asking business owners to critique the organization’s work. The questionnaire attempts to learn those issues that should take priority and which programs may need tweaking. Also important, according to one board member, is how well the organization has maintained its services since merging with a similar body, Main Street Redevelopment.
“I think they’ve been favorable,” Augie Aleksy, vice president of the chamber board and a local business owner said of the responses.
Aleksy said he’s seen no real signs that business owners have paid much attention to the merger, which, oddly enough, might be a good thing. That may indicate that the chamber has managed the transition well.
“They aren’t aware of them, but [the changes] are working well,” Aleksy said. “It’s just making it more convenient for the public.”
The survey is the first for the chamber in two or three years, according to Executive Director Laurie Kokenes, and the timing is significant. In addition to merging with Main Street, the organization is attempting to incorporate more often those businesses located off Madison.
Forest Park also is not immune to the slumping economy, and the number of vacant storefronts has spiked on Madison.
“Through a recent survey, we asked members and non-members alike for their input so the chamber can continue to address the needs of the business community and better serve our members as well as Forest Park as a whole,” Kokenes said. “Forest Park has seen a great deal of change since our last survey, but the basic needs of our members are the same. They want to promote their business and the chamber wants to support them as effectively as possible.”
Kokenes pointed to the merger as the most significant development for the organization in the last year.
“The biggest change in 2008 was the chamber-Main Street merger, which went very smoothly and, by all appearances, was well received by the business community,” Kokenes said. “The alliance has helped build a stronger, more effective organization and has served to eliminate a duplication of efforts.”