What in the World Does a Chamber of Commerce Do?

If you walked into a crowded room and asked what a chamber does, what would you expect to hear?

The chamber of commerce is like the government, right?

No, it keeps track of business complaints.

No, they’re like greeters for the community. They help the tourists find their way.

They’re a country club for businesspeople.

They’re the people with the big scissors.


While we can see why people would say all these things about the chamber, none of those comments are exactly right. And if you’ve ever been a member of a chamber of commerce in another town, that doesn’t mean your experience there will be anything like the one you would have with us. There are a lot of misconceptions about chambers but we’re here to set the record straight and help you understand exactly what the Washburn Area Chamber of Commerce can do for your business and your professional growth.

12 Common Chamber Misconceptions

There’s often some confusion around what a chamber does. That’s likely because the chamber has evolved a lot over the past decades.

How many of these popular misconceptions did you think were true about the chamber?

  1. The chamber is part of the government. We have no affiliation with any government agencies or elected leaders. The chamber may work closely with these groups, but we are not government funded and we are not a government program. In fact, the City of Washburn is actually a member of the chamber.
  2. The chamber is for business complaints. Unfortunately, we often hear complaints and we do our best to listen and pass on constructive criticisms when appropriate, but the chamber does not track business complaints in the same way the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General do. We also cannot punish businesses or make them conduct business in any specific way.
  3. The chamber is only here for the tourists and to promote tourism. The chamber is very welcoming, and people do come to the chamber to get information when they are visiting the area, we also do the majority of tourism promotion for the community but that’s not our only focus. The chamber functions like a 3-legged stool one leg is support for our members and business in the area, another is for the community itself, and the third is for tourism. It is definitely something we do but its not the only thing we do.
  4. The chamber has big scissors. Okay, this one is true but we only pull them out on special occasions. We do host ribbon cuttings but we do so much more.
  5. The chamber is only for big businesses or businesses on Main Street: The Washburn chamber supports businesses of all sizes and locations. From the large employers like the hospital or the local utility company to the homebased businesses that sell their products at craft shows we welcome everyone. Our goal is to foster a diverse and thriving business community so that our locals have access to the services and products they need to live a quality life.
  6. The chamber is all about the membership fees: Some may think chambers exist solely to collect membership fees. While dues are a necessity for funding activities, we are also committed to delivering value that surpasses the cost of membership through various services, programs, and benefits. We advocate on behalf of the entire business community, whether the business is a paying member or not.
  7. The chamber is old-fashioned. There is nothing old-fashioned about a successful economy. Some people underestimate the influence a chamber can have in shaping local policies and advocating for business-friendly regulations. We leverage our collective voice to address issues that impact the business community’s growth and success.
  8. The chamber is only for business owners: It’s not uncommon for professionals who work for companies to think that chambers are only meant for business owners or CEOs. However, we provide valuable resources and networking opportunities for employees at all levels, helping them enhance their skills and professional connections. Plus, if your employer is a member, you are a member and can attend all chamber events and programs.
  9. I’ll join the chamber, attend a business after hours, and increase my business revenue exponentially in the time it takes me to drink a glass of wine. Joining a chamber of commerce doesn’t always result in instant financial gains. While networking and exposure opportunities can lead to business growth, the benefits offered may have more long-term impacts, such as improved community relations, professional growth, and/or industry knowledge.
  10. Chamber membership is all the same. Each chamber tailors its offerings to its specific community’s needs. We aren’t part of a national chain, or always affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce. We may offer some of the same services but not always. The programs, events, and advocacy efforts are customized to meet the needs of our members.
  11. If I can’t go to events, there’s no point in joining. Networking and event attendance can be fun but it’s not the only benefit of membership.
  12. Chamber membership does nothing for E-Commerce or online businesses: We actively support online businesses by offering resources, workshops, and guidance on navigating the virtual marketplace. We also encourage our brick-and-mortar businesses to make sure they have an online presence too.

So how many of those things did you think were true that turned out not to be?

The Washburn Area Chamber of Commerce is a vibrant hub that brings the business community together. We’re a membership organization composed of business professionals and entrepreneurs who collaborate to boost the economic and civic well-being of the community. Whether you’re running a startup, leading a well-established enterprise, or just stepping into the business world, we want to be a partner in your success.

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