Victoria Good, the new board president and chair of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, gave an upbeat State of the Chamber Address during the organization’s monthly luncheon on Feb. 6 at the Cleveland Civic Center.
With the Chamber on a good financial footing, high membership and solid community programs in place, there were plenty of reasons to boast about the Chamber’s accomplishments for 2019 and its plans for 2020.
“Last year, (former Chamber Chairman) Charlie Rice stood on this stage and said that the state of the Chamber was the best it had ever been, and I think even he would be proud to say that the state of the Chamber today is the best it’s ever been,” Good said. “Just a handful of years ago, the Chamber was not in great shape financially. But then some dedicated people got involved and it took a few years, but we are now in the best financial position and thriving.”
Thriving so much, Good added, that a year ago, the board voted to open a reserve account and the Chamber has saved more than originally planned.
“Having these funds set aside gives us security in that, no matter what the economy is doing, we are still able to pay bills and operate. And by having our finances in order, we are able to focus on our biggest priority, which is you, our members,” Good said.
She highlighted some of 2019’s biggest accomplishments for the Chamber, such as the Outdoor Expo and the Second Annual Rock ‘N’ Ride. While both of the events are in their infancy, the success seen so far is promising. Good said the Outdoor Expo is “headed in the right direction,” in part to the volunteer leadership of John Hart, who chairs the free, family-friendly event. Last November’s Rock ‘N’ Ride enjoyed good weather, which may have contributed to a higher turnout, but the Chamber also improved the event by changing the location, route and concert schedule.
“We gave the cyclists what they wanted and we were thrilled with the results. Our improvements from 2018 to 2019 brought in double the amount of cyclists and about half the amount of work,” Good said. “This ride is still a work in progress but we are excited to see it happen again next year.”
Good said both events were examples of how something great can begin with a simple idea.
“In this case, it was the idea of a gun show and a music festival, and through trial and error, these two events have evolved into popular attractions in Cleveland that bring visitors from all over Texas,” she said. “They have grown in attendance and we owe that, in part, to the volunteers on our event committees for dedicating time and energy into making them a success. These events also could not have been possible if it weren’t for our amazing sponsors.”
Another worthwhile involvement in the community for the Chamber, according to Good, relates to education.
“In August, the education committee hosted the first annual education recognition luncheon where we honored the Teacher of the Year Award recipients from Cleveland and Tarkington school districts,” she said. “In October, we held the Second Annual Principal for a Day event and added Tarkington and Splendora to the program. This year, we hope to add even more options.”
The Chamber also backed a resolution that was presented to lawmakers in Austin regarding public education funding and a resolution in support of Cleveland ISD’s $198 million bond, which narrowly passed last November.
“Being in Cleveland, where we are the fastest-growing school district in Texas, I believe it is important for the Chamber to be involved in local education and create a partnership that is beneficial to the community. I look forward to strengthening those relationships even more this year,” Good said.
She also highlighted the Chamber’s participation on a Houston-Galveston Area Council transportation committee.
“A couple of years ago, Cleveland really didn’t have any representation at monthly HGAC meetings, so the Chamber board at that time created this committee to be the voice that we needed,” she said. “Because of the Chamber’s initiative that day, we now have a presence at almost every meeting, and you can rest assured that our voices are being heard.”
Good said that one of her goals in the coming year is to create a leadership program for Liberty County by partnering with other chambers of commerce.
“The idea is this: we partner with other Liberty County chambers, create a program with monthly classes and a variety of leadership topics, and offer it all to Liberty County leaders,” Good said. “This would be open to leaders in business, leaders in school and even leaders in government positions. If we can offer a leadership program in Liberty County and train people to lead, we will have so many more opportunities for growth in our cities. Also, a big part of this initiative is to create unity with our neighboring cities, which I believe is especially important now during this time of major growth.”
The Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheons are held on the first Tuesday of each month. Luncheons start at 11:30 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. For more information on joining the Chamber or attending a luncheon, call 281-592-8786.