The Localist Pledge from the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce
When I began as the CEO/President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber in 2012, I knew where the organization needed to go but did not yet know how we were going to get there. I was new in the position, learning the data behind the importance of supporting local businesses, and learning more about the positive impact of following the Triple Bottom Line. Now, as I look back, I know exactly how we arrived at celebrating 7 years in Las Cruces, increased membership, and advocating for things that would enhance our community.
The Triple Bottom Line is a unique approach to running a business. According to the website Investopedia, the Triple Bottom Line was a phrase created in 1994 by John Elkington. In 1997, he wrote the book “Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line Of 21st Century Business.” This book described the separate financial, social and environmental “bottom lines” of companies. Investopedia says “A triple bottom line measures the company’s economic value, “people account” – which measures the company’s degree of social responsibility and the company’s “planet account” – which measures the company’s environmental responsibility.”
While learning about the Triple Bottom Line, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and other programs, I also researched what other chambers throughout the country are doing to serve their members.
First and foremost, a basic explanation of the purpose of a chamber of commerce is to further the interests of their member businesses. This is done via advocacy, lobbying, networking, leadership training, events, and more. Awards programs are popular as an effort to recognize businesses for their achievements and ribbon cuttings celebrate new beginnings for businesses. Chambers of Commerce all over the country work together with state and local governments to create an even playing field for businesses. A chamber works to create an environment where businesses can prosper.
After researching the many services Chambers of Commerce offer their businesses and home communities, I started reflecting on the accomplishments of the Green Chamber to see where we stood. With more and more national chains coming into our community, the Las Cruces Green Chamber continues to be the loudest voice advocating for shopping at our locally owned stores. With our Think Local First guide and other programs, we continue to spread the word about the value of our local businesses to our community.
Our monthly Green Drinks provide opportunities for businesses to network, conduct business, and meet new people. They continue to grow in popularity as retail stores, restaurants, and service providers welcome new faces into their doors and share their stories. In partnership with WESST, our monthly First Friday talks provide businesses and nonprofits the opportunity to learn about ways to effectively promote their efforts, grant writing, social media and web creativity, developing sustainable business models and practices, and connecting with others.
Members of the Las Cruces Green Chamber board of directors and staff serve on various committees in the city, including the Glass Recycling Subcommittee (responsible for bringing glass recycling to our city). We were an integral part of the designation in 2014 of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, a tourist attraction that has already seen a 102 percent increase in visitation since the designation. As a result of the Green Chambers’ efforts to connect local businesses with National Monuments, Las Cruces is recognized nationally as a community that is leading the way in creatively connecting economic development and protected open spaces. Our model has been adapted by the Mojave Desert Lands Trust with their three Monuments: Mojave Trails, Castle Hill, and Sand to Snow. In April, I head to Maine to help implement our model with the Katahdin Waters and Woods National Monument.
We continue to celebrate to opening and anniversaries of local businesses by hosting ribbon cuttings, recognizing the growth in our local businesses and highlighting their new beginnings in our community. From social enterprises for nonprofits, to home décor, to brick and mortar businesses, we are honored to be part of these occasions that are milestones for businesses and organizations.
As an chamber of commerce that has been in existence for now 7 years, I am quite pleased at what has been accomplished and look forward to adding new outlets for our local businesses and nonprofits to connect, flourish, and be heard. Throughout my research about the purpose of a Chamber, I found that businesses feel their Chamber of Commerce and the programs offered are integral to their financial and organizational success. It is our goal to ensure that our member businesses and the local community see how the Green Chamber can play a vital part in that success.
So as we move into the next chapter, our pledge to Las Cruces is to continue to advocate for more support of our locally owned businesses, be active in creating sustainable communities by protecting our open spaces, connecting nonprofits and businesses to build valuable partnerships, and to look beyond short term solutions and supporting change that will benefit our community for years to come.
Carrie Hamblen is the CEO/President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 575-323-1575.