Alliance forms another alliance

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Things just haven't been very great for the Chamber of Commerce over the past few years.

As recently as 2011, the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce stood on its own two feet nurturing existing businesses in the region. Then in early 2012, it merged with the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., whose job was to attract new business to the region. The new entity was called the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.

By that fall, the two groups came up with the new name, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

Now, the Business Alliance is again combining efforts with other organizations.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the RBA said it would throw in with the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado (BBB) to host and promote "key community events and programs" starting next year.

We asked RBA executive Joe Raso if this is a signal of a future merger, and he said "not at all."

"This is about focusing," he said via e-mail, "not on the organizations, but rather the services we all know the local/small business community needs, and working together to provide those services in a higher valued, networked and fun way."

The rest of the RBA's news release:

The goal of the partnership is to provide the best business programs and events our region has to offer. The mission statement of the partnership is: "Working together to better serve the business community in the Pikes Peak region."

Leadership from the three organizations met with a group of business and community leaders the week of October 21 to discuss the idea and ask for feedback before rolling out the collaboration.

"These are programs that belong to the community," explained Joe Raso, President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. "We're collaborating to infuse energy and excitement into these events to raise the experience so business people can gain tangible benefits from them."

In 2014 the three organizations will collaborate on the following programs and events:
Athena International Award Luncheon
Evening in Tuscany: Women in Business Reception
Business Expo
Business Connects (regular networking events)

New changes the Business Alliance, BBB and SBDC are discussing to improve the structure and execution of these events:
Create fewer and better quality events that eliminate duplication and overlap and are focused on business success. The events will be high value, high volume and high fun. For example, instead of five events about social media throughout the year given by multiple organizations, the three groups will combine forces and come up with two outstanding events with high quality speakers.

Similarly, enhance the quality of the Business Connects networking groups by creating pre-published agendas with engaging topics about Small Business, Military/Government, Healthcare, Sports Industry/Olympics, Marketing/Sales, Technology/Manufacturing, etc. Recruit top-notch speakers to improve attendance. Use Connects to feed Business Universities. Empower Ambassadors to chair/co-chair these groups.

Create tangible benefits for each program and event and provide a format for feedback and evaluation. At the beginning of every event state the goals of the meeting and specific things attendees should walk away with. Afterward, pass out an evaluation form or direct them to a website where they can take a quick evaluation survey. The leadership of each group will also make calls to attendees to ask for feedback. The feedback will then be communicated back to the group that attended.

Create a pre-planned central calendar where all business-related programs and events are listed and updated and sent out every two weeks to each organization's membership. Build upon models that already exist. Create a committee to approve calendar submissions.

"There's a lot of discussion in our community about collaboration," said Matt Barrett, CEO and Executive Director of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado. "We decided it was time to act. We're of the same mind when it comes to local business and this gives us the opportunity to better serve all of our constituents."

Aikta Marcoulier, Executive Director of SBDC, agreed. "The more great minds we can gather together, the better solutions we will create. With the strength of this partnership we know we can improve the quality of the event experience for small businesses."

Each organization will maintain their autonomy and continue to champion their own, unique events as well, which all three organizations will support and promote through their communication channels.

Preliminary 2014 events include:
Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance events
Community Business After Hours, State of the City, State and Region addresses, Day at the Legislature, Regional Leaders Trip, Southern Colorado Trip to Washington, D.C., Business Alliance Golf Classic, The Excellence in Business Awards Reception, The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Annual Gala, The Business and Arts Luncheon, Board of Governors luncheons and dinners, Armed Forces Week and luncheon and military luncheons.

The mission of the Business Alliance is to enhance the quality of our communities by serving the business development needs of our region so that the rate of economic growth exceeds the rate of population growth.

www.coloradospringsbusinessalliance.com

Small Business Development Center events
Monthly Business University (formerly Business Alliance University), Small Business Week, Annual Veterans Conference, Business Protection Summit, Business Seminars, and one-on-one consulting that maximizes the economic potential of Colorado entrepreneurs.

The SBDC's mission is to help existing and new businesses grow and prosper in El Paso, Park, and Teller Counties.

www.cssbdc.org

Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado events
Buzz with the Bees, Benefits 101, A Night of Excellence Award Gala, Small Business Week, Better Business Bureau Foundation Golf Tournament, Letter Shred and Data Destruction Events, Business Seminars and Workshops, Savvy Teens, Savvy Senior Outreach Events and Military Outreach.

The BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.

www.bbb.org

As the Business Alliance, SBDC and BBB evolve their partnership, the organizations plan to extend special benefits to members of each other's constituents, most likely in the form of discounted program and event rates.

For more information, contact Camille Blakely, Blakely + Company, 719.331.4598.

As a footnote, the RBA is losing one of its key people, Dave White. From a release:

Dave White, Chief Business Development Officer for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance (Business Alliance), has announced his resignation to accept a position as CEO of Stanislaus County Economic Development and Workforce Alliance in Modesto, California. White has served the Colorado Springs region as Chief Business Development Officer of the Business Alliance and its predecessor organization, the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation, since 2006.

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