2020 has been a year of uncertainty, hardship and resilience. COVID-19 has not only changed how we do business, but it is determining what businesses survive and ultimately grow beyond the pandemic. The Aiken Chamber is here to help business survive and ultimately grow and thrive.
Below are 10 significant actions the Aiken Chamber took for business in 2020.
1.     Participated as a guarantor in the City of Aiken $1 Million Revolving Loan Fund. This program was a lifeline for the 47 local small businesses that received funding. The total amount loaned was $464,042.
2.     Advocated for 5 major economic initiatives: funding of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, the S.C. National Guard DreamPort at USC Aiken, the PIT production mission at the Savannah River Site, liability protection for business in the wake of COVID-19, and the local investment of the $600 million dollar settlement between the federal government and the State of South Carolina.
3.     Aiken Chamber Chair, Julie Whitesell, Meybohm Real Estate, and Aiken Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson conducted 18 virtual meetings in April to discuss the “lay-of-the-land” with members. Approximately 200 people were invited to participate with a 50% participation rate.
4.     A geofenced social media and Google AdWords campaign being used by the Aiken Chamber to promote Aiken as an excellent place to live, work and play successfully wrapped up after a three-year run. Over 2 Million impressions of the ads were displayed across Facebook.
5.     Over the last 21 months, the Aiken Chamber has collaborated with the City of Aiken in the development of a comprehensive Economic Development Action Plan for Aiken. The Plan was released in December and will be presented at First Friday Means Business in January.
6.     Pivoted 4 Caffeinated Conversations to an online format to continue to offer relevant business training and education for members. Subjects included year-end tax planning for business, increasing sales with online reviews, websites for business success, and protecting your business from an economic downturn.
7.     Created the podcast “Ask the Expert” and produced 8 episodes to provide up-to-date information to our members. Timely subjects included broadband access, health care, economic conditions, the Paycheck Protection Program, school updates, Accelerate SC, and area community service needs.
8.     The Aiken Chamber professional staff called on over 500 members for one-on-one conversations This allowed us to help connect members to resources and information on a personal level.
9.     Created a “Good News” social media campaign to allow members a highly visited platform to announce that they were open, had reopened, or were opening soon. With a reach of 67,000, the news that Aiken was open for business spread rapidly.
10.  Stepped up the Chamber’s SHOP AIKEN campaign to include a City of Aiken proclamation, social media videos, and newspaper advertisements. 1,951 minutes of video encouraging viewers to SHOP AIKEN were viewed.