A Message from the Past-Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, Kip Bilo
Hello everyone. Well, in the immortal segue from Barbara Walters for many years, “This. Is. 2020!” It sure turned out to be quite a year. I’m happy to say, “This. Is. 2021!”
Sadly, the health scare we were hit with has made us put our lives on hold, so to speak. The absolute last thing for any organization to face, especially a Chamber, is social distancing and sequestering. I’m proud to say that our Chamber is on the leading edge of activities and events for all members to take advantage of and enjoy. At this point, we all know that to stay safe and keep our families safe, we must abide by the terms of little or no interaction. We will get through this and once again see sold out sporting events, 2-hour restaurant waits, children happy to be back in school, everyone happy to be back at work, and most importantly, big hugs and handshakes again!!!! The vaccines, although a bit slow getting momentum in our area, are coming and that is providing a light at the end of the tunnel. While masking up may be something we’ll be dealing with for some time, at least we will know that we are significantly safer once those who choose to do so are fully vaccinated.
It has truly been an honor to head the Board of ultra-talented people who all give of their valuable time voluntarily. I should mention that we also, quite often, have had our share of fun and laughter, even in these most uncertain times. My hope for the future is that we continue to serve our communities in the same fashion and continue to be known as “THE CHAMBER” to be a part of.
A major shout-out as well to Renee Blomstrom, who makes everyone’s duties as Board members, so simple and seamless. She has a way with words and always expresses my thoughts and our Board’s in the most professional manner. Many times, I’ve thought of Renee, sitting alone in our beautiful new office, just hoping for the day that the doors are swung open and everyone is welcomed again. The job she overtook in communicating to our membership during the pandemic was at times, quite daunting. But every week, she put out a terrific newsletter and let us all know the local and state government’s stance on all the issues. Thank you, Renee!!!
It is with very mixed emotions that I end my tenure as Chairman of this wonderful organization, The Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce. The fiscal year 2019-20 had many highlights, including the opening of our fantastic new office and adding 53 new members, the Golf Outing, the Stars Gala, both Men’s and Women’s night, our new Book Club and countless events and mixers. Conversely, the fiscal year, 2020-2021, couldn’t have been more opposite. Starting with the Annual Meeting scheduled in March, 2020, we have had almost every event cancelled or made virtual with the help of Zoom. A year ago, many of us never thought that Zoom would become such a large part of our lives.
Despite the challenges, there are many accomplishments to celebrate:
- We welcomed 23 new members and even held a socially distanced Ribbon Cutting!
- 10 local chambers formed the Alliance of Montgomery County Chambers. The mission is to provide a vehicle for open dialogue on current and emerging issues, to establish a forum for ongoing communication with elected officials on business-related topics, and to leverage a collective voice for business advocacy when deemed appropriate.
- Delayed membership renewals during the County and State shutdown
- We distributed over 530 PPE kits at no cost to local businesses
- Increased frequency of e-news to keep our members informed and distribute time-sensitive data.
- Introduced a Shop Local Campaign
- Renee participated in weekly and bi-weekly calls with local officials and Chambers throughout the State
- Ramped up advocacy efforts to promote a pro-business climate and proudly signed-on to advocacy letters to initiate change.
- Deployed three-tier pricing model for virtual programs to accommodate the needs of financially impacted businesses
I’m proud of these and the countless other accomplishments of the PV Chamber in the year of the pandemic.
I would like to take a moment to recognize our locally owned businesses… we saw you all persevere through times of uncertainty, adapt to new challenges and find creative solutions to serve your customers.
Please everyone, continue to stay safe!!!! This pandemic will eventually be in our rearview mirrors and some form of normalcy will return to all our lives. We’re almost there!!!!And please continue to support our local businesses in any way that you can. Take out, gift cards and food pick up will be truly appreciated. And if you had to cancel that haircut, salon appointment, etc., send a check anyway. It keeps cash flow going, which is crucial for paying the rent and employees and reschedule down the road, when smiles return.
I hope that all of our members used the pandemic reboot to reconnect with families and reflect on everything that makes us happy and become better people because of it.
Kip “You’re on Mute” Bilo, 2019-2021 Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors