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Ring in the New Year with our Annual WVPT Non-Profit Business After Hours

December 30th, 2014

WVPT will once again host January’s Business After Hours event.  This year’s Non-Profit BAH will take place on January 15, 2015 from 5-7 pm.  Non-profits will have the opportunity to showcase their business at individual booths.  The venue this year will be located at The Boys & Girls Club of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  We are currently accepting registrations.


Upcoming Job Fair!

February 17th, 2012

The Ides of March marks this year’s regional job fair. The event, which is hosted by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce and the Daily News-Record, will take place from 12 pm- 6 pm on March 15th at the First Church of the Nazarene. A great way to meet potential employers and make contacts, the fair offers access to information, assistance, and the opportunity to find the right job for you. Resume Assistance will be available for all those who are interested and you can even get your resume printed on the spot! The Coaching Corner will open at 11 am and can provide extra guidance on how to make the best impression and land a great job.

2012 Exhibitors include:

  • James Madison University
  • Blue Ridge Community College
  • Home Instead Senior Care
  • Truck Enterprises, Inc.
  • Star 94.3
  • Dynamic Aviation
  • Good Printers
  • Adecco
  • Kelly Services
  • National College
  • Modern Woodmen of America
  • American Health & Wellness Institute
  • Primerica
  • Biolife Plasma Services
  • ComSonics

Please check out our website for additional information regarding booth registration and shuttle services at http://www.hrchamber.org/v.php?pg=129.

Also, look for our Economic Forecast coming this March!

Post-Session Legislative Breakfast Held

May 4th, 2011

The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Post-Session Legislative Breakfast was held this morning and was another successful event. We appreciate Senators Mark Obenshain and Emmett Hanger, Delegates Steve Landes and Tony Wilt giving their views of the session and what it means for business in The Valley. Tori Williams, Legislative Liaison for VA West (a coalition of I-81 Chambers) spoke on specific legislation of interest to the business community in general. The budget, transportation, economic development, accelerated sales tax relief, right-to-work and small business were all topics of discussion. If you missed it, catch the story on WHSV, Channel 3 or in the DNR in the morning.

Non-Profit Organizations

February 28th, 2011

Stepping Up to the Plate: Serving on a Non-Profit Board

By Betsy Neff Hay, Executive Director
United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Several weeks ago, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce teamed up with The Community Foundation and United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to sponsor a training event for business persons interested in serving on a non-profit Board of Directors. The response to the event was so positive that the three organizations are planning to duplicate the event this Spring.

Why the rush to learn about local non-profits?

Non-Profit Search EngineHarrisonburg and Rockingham County boast nearly 100 local non-profits! A quick visit to www.tcfuwhr.org, a search website compiled by The Community Foundation and United Way, reveals the breadth and scope of services provided by these organizations – everything from private education and healthcare to the performing arts.

Consider that each non-profit is governed by a local Board of Directors of at least ten members and we see that the non-profit sector is dependent on the competencies and commitment of at least 1,000 leaders in our community.

The responsibilities of these volunteer leaders are great. And the impact is significant. The non-profit business sector has a lot on the line. The 32 United Way partner agencies alone pump $12,500,000 per year into the local economy and employ over 330 staff with wages totaling $7,000,000 per year. This is not to mention the 12,000 persons whose lives are improved through the compassionate work of these agencies.

It is imperative that the non-profit sector of our community expect only the brightest and best of our local leadership to guide our organizations and then purposefully attract those persons to rewarding volunteerism.

What does it take to serve on a non-profit Board?

A favorite song from the Broadway show “Damn Yankees” comes to mind – “You’ve gotta have heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart!” That’s true! But in reality, you’ve got to have a lot more than heart to step up to the plate!

Do you have…

Skill sets that you can put to use in a non-profit setting? Skills such as accounting, public relations, marketing, graphic design, social networking, business planning, fund raising and human resource management are always needed and welcome.

Support from your workplace to volunteer your time and represent your company through community service? Board membership is one way that the private sector can compliment and strengthen the non-profit and public sectors in our community.

Leadership traits that put team work and collaboration above self-interest or self advancement? If you are looking for opportunities to develop a mind and heart for leadership, service on a non-profit board is a great way to learn what it takes.

Financial resources to invest in the non-profit organization OR the ability to open doors to other persons with financial resources? Expect to make the organization you serve one of your top charitable choices, whether your gift is $50 or $5,000 annually.

Contagious passion for our community? Whether you have a love for children, older adults, animals, the environment, the arts or the homeless, there is a non-profit that will match your interests and benefit from your passion.

Are you willing to sign?

As a touch of spring hits the air this week and our favorite baseball teams take to spring training camp, consider signing with a non-profit “team” this year. The vitality of our community is dependent on the non-profit sector as equal partners with the public and private sectors. And the non-profit sector is only as strong as those in leadership positions on local boards. Whether a rookie or a veteran, step up to the plate and show us what you’ve got!

Look for details on the “Building Blocks for Non-Profit Board Members” seminar coming soon.

Internet Marketing Seminar Recap

January 24th, 2011

“The Best Money You Never Spent:
Getting on Page One of Google Without Spending a Dime”

By Ben Cash, BlueKey Web Solutions

Thank you to all who came out to Clementine’s for the first of three workshops in the Lunch & Lecture Internet Marketing Series. This blog post is a brief recap of just a few of the topics discussed and will hopefully provide a few tips for those who were not able to attend.

Forest vs Trees…
Let me start by putting this topic in context.  While getting on the first page of Google is important for successful search engine marketing, it is only a piece of the larger process that produces results.  The following steps represent an ongoing cyclical approach that will not only improve your ranking, but help you learn about your site visitors and create a better online experience.

  1. Create fresh, relevant content
  2. Generate a buzz and drive traffic
  3. Collect data about your site and web traffic
  4. Analyze data to find actionable insights*
  5. Make adjustments and repeat the process

*Actionable insights might include fixing problems with your site, finding opportunities with new keywords and new geographic markets, making adjustments to your content and website structure to improve your conversion rate, and more.

Organic Search Results

The organic search results are the primary results in the main body of the page and where most searchers click first. As such, it is where most search marketers focus their efforts. There are numerous factors that contribute to search engine optimization (SEO), but to keep it simple, we focused on two important ones, keywords and linking.

You Say Tomato…
When creating copy for your website, it is important to include keywords and key phrases that match those that your potential customers use. The best way to find out the right words are with the Google Keyword Tool. It gives you a comprehensive list of associated keywords in order of popularity. Use this tool to create a palette of common keywords and phrases that you and your organization will consistently use when writing copy for your website and social media channels.

Location, Location, Location…
Once you have the right keywords, it is important to put them in the most Google-friendly places. These are your page title, main body copy and headers, meta description tag, and a few other places your webmaster can tell you about. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that more keywords = better ranking. Just deliver meaningful, well-written copy that is intended for humans, not the Googlebot.

Word of Mouth…
Getting noticed is often a popularity contest. The same old word of mouth concept applies to how Google ranks your site. If you were to poll your friends on the best place to go for dinner and 9 out of 10 recommended the same one, then its popularity would make your decision easy. By the same token, if more sites on the web link to your website, then Google may see it as more popular and rank it higher. Google will also give more weight to links that come from sites who are themselves highly ranked and contain information relevant to yours. In other words, quality is just as important as quantity. So how do you get other sites to link to yours? Ask them. A great place to start is industry partners, the Chamber of Commerce, and social media channels.

Google Places

While getting ranked within the top ten organic search results can be challenging, an easier free way to get on page one is through Google Places. Places is Google’s way of listing your business via Google Maps and provides potential customers with details such as your address, contact information, photos, customer feedback, hours of operation, and more. It even gives you the option to create coupons and special offers. Best of all, claiming your listing is free and only takes a few simple steps.

Google Base and Merchant Center

Google is hungry for your content and provides tools for free submission to their database. Two portals for posting information to Google’s database are Google Base and Google Merchant Center. The Merchant Center is for products, while Base is for everything else such as events/activities, real estate, jobs, and vehicles. Submitting your “data feed” can sometimes be challenging for a novice, but once accepted, your content may appear in Google’s Search, Maps, Product Search, and more.

Track & Measure

Whether you’re trying to get on page one or maintain your ranking, it’s important to track and measure your efforts. In other words, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Google offers two great free tools to assist; Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Analytics shows you how people found your site, where they came from, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience. WebmasterTools provides detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google, diagnostic tools, traffic information, and even allows you to submit a Site Map of your website. These tools are paramount for anyone serious about getting on page one of Google. Setup is easy and your webmaster can help. Feel free to contact me at ben@bluekeyinc.com with questions or comments.

What’s Next?

Don’t have time to put in the effort to get ranked? Then try Google AdWords pay-per-click advertising and get on page one instantly. Learn more at our next Lunch & Lecture Seminar “From Machete to Scalpel: Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising to Target and Convert Your Ideal Customers” on February 8th from 11:30 to 1:00 at Clementine Cafe.

Get the full details on the next Internet Marketing Seminar >>

Community Involvement

January 21st, 2011

Business Person of the Year Encourages Community Involvement

Congratulations again to the 2010 Business Person of the Year Dave Miller of Dave’s Downtown Taverna. Dave is a community leader and has been instrumental in forming a Downtown Dining Alliance and the Chamber’s Member-2-Member Program.

By: Dave Miller, Owner of Dave’s Downtown Taverna, 2010 Business Person of the Year

I have loved the Harrisonburg area since I came to visit Eastern Mennonite University for the first time in 1978.  Eventually, I attended both EMU and then JMU where I met my wife Julie.  After Julie and I got married I took a job with a regional restaurant chain that took me out of the area for four years.  We returned in 1994 to take over the operations of Gus’ Taverna. And, becoming a member of the local Chamber of Commerce was near the top of the list just, behind getting a health permit and a business license.

In the beginning, my goals for Dave’s Taverna were simple:

  1. Create the best restaurant experience possible by applying all that I had learned during my journeyman trek to restaurant owner/operator; and
  2. Find ways in which I could help better our community.

Over the years, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce has provided me with the necessary support and direction needed to achieve these goals.

Community involvement and good works translate into a better life and business for my family.  I got to know people who helped me make a difference.  I honestly feel that a local business must give of itself to have any chance of making it in the long term.  What better organization than the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce to help promote my personal and business values.  I mean the mission is in the name.  The Chamber of Commerce has been toiling away on my behalf for 15 years and continues to impress me with its relevance.

Member-2-Member Program

A great example of this relevance is the Member-2-Member program, which I helped create, to reward employees of businesses for supporting other local businesses.  In my opinion buying local is an obligation.  Now, as a result of the Member-2-Member program, supporting local business is a cost saving, employee benefiting, community building and warm fuzzy feeling program.

More than 50 businesses have signed on to the program to offer discounts to their fellow Chamber members, from restaurants and hotels to attractions and travel agencies.

Thirty years into this journey I am still learning of new ways that can help make my business and community better.  I didn’t know that Dave’s Taverna could or would have the impact that it has had on the Harrisonburg community, but I feel that the Chamber knew what could be if we worked together.