George Chamber of Business – looking back at 2011

George Chamber of Business – looking back at 2011

It is my pleasure to present this report to the membership of the George Business Chamber.

The Chamber has enjoyed a very positive term resulting in a growth of membership, an enhanced community profile and services provided for the members. In addition to consolidating its financial position, the organisation has successfully developed its internal capability, providing a strong foundation for continued growth.

Exceeding 300 members was a notable achievement for the Chamber .The growth of the Chamber continues to strengthens our undertaking to be the leading voice of business in the region.
Regular interactions with key people has been, and continues to be, a fundamental necessity.

August saw the George Business Chamber arranging an informal breakfast, for members and interested parties, with Minister Allan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism. The intention was create an environment where identified issues that had been identified by local and regional business, could be openly discussed. Minister Winde announced the “Red Tape” initiative which has been a catalyst in the improvement of some businesses that have put this initiative to the test. The “Red Tape” initiative has been put into place so that incidents or matters that hinder the progress of  business’ advancement can be investigated and hopefully removed.

Another milestone has been the formalisation of the Garden Route Business Forum which focuses on regional economic development and enjoys the attendance of representatives from a broad spectrum of key players across the region. I would like to acknowledge MEC Winde and his department for their commitment to working with us and the Regional Business Forum towards strong economic growth for our region.

During the last year our ties with Provincial Government has strengthened significantly, and we now have the commitment from MEC Winde that George is not the step child of the Province, but a key player in the economy of the region. There are several provincial initiatives underway that aim to grow the economy of the region.
I would like to thank MEC Winde for the continued support from him and his department.

We have also had a very successful year in dealing with Local government. Carli Bunding-Venter from the LED department has been co-opted onto our exco and continues to play a vital role in helping each organization understand and work with each other. Some key economic development initiatives from the Municipal side is being fully supported by the Chamber and will be making a visible difference to many sectors of the George business community.
I would like to thank the George Municipality for their visible and continued support of the George Business Chamber.
There have been numerous Economic Development workshops held during the year and the Business Chamber has been involved at these, and provided input on behalf of the members. Various matters are getting attention. (Local tender process etc.)

The EXCO also successfully lobbied the airlines for more flights to and from George and we are pleased to announce that there are now 4 new early flights, per week, leaving at 06h20am from George. This ensures that people can get to Johannesburg and back in a day and not need to stay over.
We will be continuing our lobbying of the airlines in an effort to get the airfares to and from George reduced. Once reduced we should see a strong increased in business and tourist travel, which will make a significant difference to the economy of the region.
It has been a very busy year with many activities promoting the Chamber and serving the members. These activities included the following :

We assisted at the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge in 2011 and we’ll be assisting again on the 18th February 2012.

The Business Breakfast in March 2011 was sponsored by Ernst and Young Chartered Accountants. Guest speaker,Prof Matthew Lester, entertained the guests with a simple but comprehensive outlook for the Economic year.
The Annual golf day at Kingswood Golf Estate where some of the funds raised were used to support the PDSA.

The Gala Dinner honoring the Business Person of the Year 2011 as well as Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 was the social highlight of the business year. For the first time there were two runners up per
category and recognition for finalists was given. It was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Oubaai and was attended to capacity.

The monthly networking evenings and “Morning Marketing” events proved again to be very popular and continue to be so.

During the November Business breakfast, sponsored by Airports Company, the guests were reminded of the importance of “Branding and Marketing You” and were motivated by guest speaker, Donna Rachelson – well renowned Keynote Speaker .

The upgrading and modernization of our website have allowed us to further enhance our serve to members.
The arrival of ALGOA FM in the Garden Route has been well received. The move has been a few years in the making and the Business Chamber had a hand in making this happen.

In a drive to be fully representative of business in George the chamber has initiated discussions with the Business School of NMMU. This is to encourage business students, who will be the young business managers/owners of the future as well as the consumers and customers of tomorrow, to explore the different aspects of Leadership and practical experience in Business. These interactions led to the establishment of a youth Leadership group who are called “Pathfinders”.

We realize the need to further strengthen our relations with other business oriented bodies in George and surrounds, and have started on the path to increased integration and representation at all levels within the Chamber and its functions. This will not only help us to better align our effects, but will also result in increased business success all round.

Our aim for the future is to be the leading voice of business in the region, and I am happy to say we are achieving this through continued growth, excellent service delivery and meaningful engagement with other stakeholders in our local and regional economy.

The 2011 – EXCO have all contributed, through their commitment, to achieving and exceeding set goals.
My personal thanks to Koos du Plessis, Dr Willie Cilliers, Ingrid Cronje, Brenda Moses, Madeleine Goldie, Niel de Necker , Neville Prins, Nadia Abrahamse and Carli Bunding-Venter. Also Thank You to Lydia Barrett , who loyally supported the George Business Chamber for 2011 until her resignation at the end of last year.

We would like to welcome Lesley Warner who now holds the secretarial position at the Chamber Offices.
My thanks to a great team who worked to meet the demands of the Chamber and to you, the loyal and supportive members.
We look forward to your continued support during 2012.

Thank you all for your attendance this evening

Imel Rautenbach
George Business Chamber
7 February 2012.

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