Through the growth spreading to the town in the past few years, the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce has remained strong – until earlier this month, when one of two full-time positions was eliminated as a “cost-saving measure,” said current chamber president Jeff Eddins.
According to the chamber’s treasurer Alice Alexander, the revenue in 2013 was $179,297, but plummeted to $118,041 in 2014.
The full-time Operations & Member Development position, which was filled by Sherry Samuels until April 9, will be replaced by a part-time position, according to Eddins.
Samuels was essential during her time at the Chamber by “bridging the gap” between the last director and current director, Eddins said. “Sherry did an outstanding job. These are tough changes for all,” he said.
While the chamber’s expenses had remained stable over the past several years, Eddins said, the chamber had seen a sharp decline in revenues over the past two years.
The chamber board recently consulted an independent CPA, Christopher R. Donohue, who confirmed that last year the chamber spent more than it brought in.
“It forced us to tighten our belt and take a hard look at our budget,” he said. The chamber will need to utilize the savings they do still have for large capital projects instead of daily operations.
Last year, that included nearly $60,000 used from savings for operational expenses, according to the CPA’s report.
Membership dues and events such as the Knightdale chamber banquet, a business expo and golf tournament generate the organization’s main revenue streams.
Eddins said more changes will likely accompany this initial adjustment in the future, although he is unsure what shape they will take. He pointed to social media marketing especially as a new landscape the chamber must navigate.
“We’re just trying to just trying to be forward-thinking and trying to mitigate financial challenges down the road,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to reinvent ourselves to stay relevant.”
To rally their resources and investigate the downturn in revenue, the board appointed a finance committee led by Alexander.
Despite the tighter budget, the chamber claims that they are in “good shape” with savings and more conservative expenses this fiscal year.
“Like many of our neighbors the Knightdale chamber has not been immune to the financial challenges many organizations have felt during this downturn,” Eddins wrote in an email to chamber members.
“Our resolve is to remain a vibrant and healthy organization. This requires us to live within our means and abide to a realistic budget as stewards of our members’ money.”
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Yount declined to comment, referring questions to Eddins.