An impressive nighttime shot of downtown Jackson unfolds as the logo is unveiled: “One Community for Success.”
A television ad? No, it’s the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce’s enhanced, interactive Web site that will hit the Web on July 10.
“The old Web site was outdated,” said Kay M. Maghan, director of public relations for MJCC. “We wanted to have a really strong metro presence, because there’s not one particular Web site people can go to for this type of information.”
The Web site’s second page scrolls to an image of blurred car lights streaming around an interstate bend in Jackson, and is highlighted by the chamber’s updated logo that reflects cultural changes since its inception. Access buttons to information about metro Jackson, the chamber itself, affiliates and partners, events and a membership directory are easily categorized with pages to links for relocation information that tell about the quality of life, economic development and market data (the metropolitan area is expected to grow in population to 466,435 by 2010), and tourism information that includes an up-to-date calendar of events. With the membership directory, keywords make it easy to find member companies, programs and services.
“With an enhanced Web site, we can be the tri-county area’s clearinghouse of information,” Maghan said.
The Web site, which will include a membership directory with links to member businesses, is another service MJCC is providing its 1,600-plus members, who already receive two regular faxes — a weekly metro calendar and biweekly metro memo — and a newspaper-style newsletter, published and mailed bimonthly.
“We plan to roll out more programs and services in the next few months,” Maghan said. “We recently initiated a referral program, Metro Business Savers, that has worked very well, especially for small businesses.”
Based on a similar program in Clearwater, Fla., Metro Business Savers generates sales leads and saves time for business owners by connecting businesses. It works like this: when a member needs a particular product, such as a copy machine, he completes a Metro Business Savers form and faxes it to MJCC. It is then faxed to members that sell that particular product. Immediate contact is made, and members stay within the network.
“It’s much easier than flipping through a phone book,” Maghan said.
MJCC is promoting its newly enhanced Web site with a variety of promotional materials, such as a mouse pad featuring art by Clinton artist Wyatt Waters.
“It’s not enough for chambers to have Web sites,” said Maghan. “It’s very time-consuming, but important, to keep them updated.”
Until July 10, numbered movie-type countdowns will tease users prior to launching. (Check out www.metrochamber.com.)
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or (601) 364-1018.
SMALLER CHAMBERS CONFRONT WEB CHALLENGES
Even though most of the smaller chambers in the metro area have an Internet presence, budget and staff constraints make it difficult to update them as frequently as needed, say area directors.
To solve the problem, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Web site, www.co.madison.ms.us, was developed as part of a leadership project in 1997.
“Over the last three years, it has been refined, modified, and updated to its current format,” said Dianne Dyar, executive director. “But with a small staff, it’s difficult to keep it updated constantly.”
A four-page children’s brochure, another MCCC leadership project, was recently added to the Web site, where it can be downloaded for immediate use.
“We don’t keep a ticker, and we don’t have advertisers,” she said. “There’s been some debate about both. Some people say that tickers aren’t accurate. We’ve considering letting people advertise, at least with a banner that can be changed out monthly.”
Linda Bynum, executive director of the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, who called the chamber’s Web site, www.ridgelandchamber.com, “progressive,” said an average of 250 hits are tracked each month. The chamber staff handles a steady stream of e-mail requests, from starting a business to locating merchants.
“Most Web sites around the state change very little throughout the year, such as when there is a change in presidents,” Bynum said. “But our Web site changes constantly, with photos of ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings, and news at a glance. These elements make for interesting features and probably account for increased interest.”
Many chambers share Web sites with tourism divisions. John Barber, executive director of the Raymond Chamber of Commerce, said their Web site, www.raymondms.com, received nearly 1,000 hits last month, primarily because of the Civil War reenactments, not because of business requests.
“We’re planning a really big enactment in the spring of 2001 and many history buffs and re-enactors are searching for information,” he said.
At last count, more than 11,000 total hits had been logged at www.pearlms.org, said Tom Burt, director of the Pearl Chamber of Commerce, who added that the chamber’s Web site is in the process of being revamped.
“It’s been well visited, with about 50/50 business and travel inquiries,” said Burt. “But even though it’s been very effective, most of our inquiries are still by phone.”
The Clinton Chamber of Commerce’s Web site, www.clintonchamber.org, is in the process of being upgraded to a more organized format, one that allows the tracking of inquiries on business, travel and retirement, according to a chamber representative.
Rankin County Chamber of Commerce’s Web site, www.rankinchamber.com, which represents Brandon/Reservoir, Pearl, Flowood, Florence, Pisgah/Pelahatchie, Puckett/Star and Richland, is chock full of detailed listings, though not necessarily updated.
“We’re the only chamber that represents the entire tri-county area,” said Kay Maghan, director of public relations for MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce.
“There are nine individual chambers in the area and we all work together. We’re hopeful our new Web site will help us help each other even more.”