MIDLOTHIAN

The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce had one of its most successful years with 72 members joining and festivals booming with attendance and sponsorships. Next on the Chamber’s radar is to build retention and aid businesses that are partners.

The board of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce is working on a two to three-year strategic plan and is currently asking the general community and the business community how the Chamber can be of better value.

Chamber President Cammy Jackson wants residents and business owners to feel connected and benefit from the Chamber.

“The data should be gathered by mid-January. We hope to be able to roll out the strategic plan by the end of the next quarter of 2018,” Jackson said.

For 2018, Jackson has two major projects that will benefit nonprofits and local business owners.

In 2017, the Chamber started working on the idea of a Center for Nonprofit Excellence. This program will develop over 2018 to train and teach members of nonprofits about board developments and strategies.

“Some of the nonprofits are really small. Some of them are volunteer organizations. We want to teach them how to be the best they can be for their members and constituents,” Jackson explained.

These projects stemmed from the work of Jackson’s father in Williamson County, where he was one of the founders of Nonprofit of Excellence. Jackson said she has been involved in the nonprofit world for over 18 years and wants to prepare local entities better.

Another project Jackson is working to incorporate is the “Midlothian Business Institute.” Throughout 2018, the chamber will work to develop this program so it will be in full swing by 2019. The business institute will serve as a certification program through a local college.

“This is taught by local experts, which will be teaching accounting, financing, how to create a business proposal and marketing and technology. The basics that entrepreneurs need to know in order to be successful in their business,” Jackson explained.

The first class for business professionals “Accelerate Entrepreneurship,” will start on Jan. 18. Topics that will be covered are taxation and government reporting, legal issues, human resources marketing and information technology and accounting overview.

The five-week class will be hosted on Thursday evenings at the Midlothian Higher Education Center; Tarleton State University faculty will teach these courses.

The class will be held from 6:30 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. The cost for the class is $25, but size is limited. For more information call 972-978-3108 or register at bit.ly/AccelerateMidlothian.

She said the need for resources like the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and the Midlothian Institute are crucial to be located nearby so locals don’t have to travel to Dallas to gain this information.

Jackson said retention plays a large part of a business staying open in Midlothian.

“One of the things that we have learned is keeping people active and engaged and always making sure that they are consistently involved in the community really helps the business community grow and remain strong,” Jackson explained.

One way the Chamber engages businesses with the community is through festivals and events. Jackson said 2017 was the Chamber’s most profound year for attendance at events, sponsorships, and higher net revenue.

Jackson commended the chamber staff for their efforts put into the festivals and community service with the business community being open and receptive.

The event that Jackson was most proud of was the Arts & Wine Festival, which originated in 2014. She mentioned the attendance has doubled or more than doubled with each time it’s hosted. The weekend has brought people from all over Midlothian to downtown and has become more elaborate and involved over the years.

When looking back on the year, moving into the new building in January was a huge staple in accomplishments for the Chamber. After 25 years, the Chamber moved out of Citizens National Bank to South 9th Street.

“We call it a home away from home,” Jackson said.

“For us to move into our own building and pay rent and still be balanced in the bank — cause as a nonprofit, we have to operate on a shoestring budget,” Jackson said, “To do all of that and move in here was a super, big accomplishment. That makes me proud of the staff and all of the committees stepping up and making our event so successful.”

“It’s important for people to know that we are here for the business community,” Jackson added. “We strive to do the best we can to connect the businesses with the community. Our primary purpose is help strengthen the business community and make them as successful as they can be.”