FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Over the past four months, the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce has been undergoing an overhaul of its structure -- and one of the first things to change was its leadership.
In July, the chamber’s Board of Directors asked then-Chairwoman Beverly Balaz to take on the role of executive director after Patricia Ritchie retired. Balaz said she had just come up with one-, three- and five-year plans about how to get the chamber to the place where it needed to be.
When she started at the end of June, the most important step was to put a full plan together, get it out to the membership and ask what they needed from the chamber, Balaz said. She said she also reached out to the nonmembers to ask why they had not joined and what they might want from the chamber.
“That’s the plan for the first year:” talking to members and finding out what they need, Balaz said. The chamber is also planning to host a series of talks and get-togethers for local businesses to discuss what works and what doesn’t in Fairfield. “It’s all about the do’s and don’t’s,” she said.
Beyond that, she said, the chamber is focusing on revamping its website. “Our website is not that terrific, and we really need to improve the functionality,” she said.
Part of the plan is also to help its members by cross-promoting events they are having or sales that are taking place.
“We want people to shop local, eat local and really stay in town,” she said.
Among Balaz’s duties is helping to keep businesses in the know about local, state and federal laws that could affect them. And to do that, Balaz said she has been meeting with First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart.
“They want to encourage business in town, but we want to sustain them,” Balaz said. She wants to give local business owners a central place to go for needed information.
For the immediate future, Balaz said she is mostly concerned about making the website better, engaging the membership and helping to form a community around Fairfield businesses.