Chamber survey points to better area economy

SALEM – A member survey by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce said half the respondents expected economic conditions to improve compared to last year, 46 percent said they would remain the same while four percent expected it to worsen.

“As an organization, it is important to be aware of the needs of our membership. Giving members the opportunity to voice their opinions is vital to our success when providing Chamber benefits, programing and activities,” said Audrey Null, executive director of the Salem chamber.

The chamber has a general membership of 365 members and there were between 66 and 69 responses, something Eric Hamilton of Pecchia Communications that conducted the two-week online survey in January said appeared to be “very typical.”

Other findings showed that 57 percent expected their businesses to improve this year, 38 percent said they would remain the same and five percent expected business to worsen.

Respondents were asked to rank their choices regarding internal topics and general marketing questions.

More than 65 percent wanted to see marketing addressed in seminars compared to about 48.4 percent wanting more on customer relations, while right about 31 percent wanted more in e-commerce and legal issues.

Respondents also felt it was important to engage more in Gen-Y networking and activities for the 20-year-old and up people just entering the workforce.

More than 48 percent said Gen-Y marketing was important compared to a 10.61 percent response regarding women’s networking and activities.

“We are encouraged by these findings,” Null said.

“They suggest that our members are expecting our local economy to prosper in 2014 and that their own businesses are in for a good year.”

Hamilton said, “I think it was helpful for them to get the pulse of local businesses heading into the new year.

“It equips them with what people are thinking and their concerns and how the chamber can be of assistance in growing their business.”

Null added, “The Salem Chamber appreciates the work of Pecchia Communications in polling our membership for us.”

The chamber is a working partnership of business and civic-minded people who focus their interests on Salem and the surrounding area.