In January 2017, the GMPCC grew out of the Greater Magnolia and Magnolia Parkway chambers of commerce unifying in Magnolia. The GMPCC provides support services to businesses and the community in the Greater Magnolia area.
In her first few months with the GMPCC, Barton said she spent time analyzing the financials and structure of the organization, speaking with current and former members and exploring how the chamber should move forward.
Why did you come to Magnolia?
I believe there is tremendous opportunity here. With the way Montgomery County is growing and where the available land for growth is, Magnolia is poised for an explosion of residential and business growth. The mobility projects, [whether] in the works or in the plans, will put [Magnolia] on equal footing with other areas of the county that already have much quicker access to mobility corridors. Magnolia will become more attractive to businesses to locate here.
What is a day like as president?
Every day is different. It is primarily ensuring that we are here to answer the phones. You never know what kind of calls we are going to get, from helping people find phone numbers to making referrals. We provide that kind of community service. I meet with a lot of members and prospective members to help them understand the role of the chamber. Sometimes it is helping community members who are not members yet with business support systems, such as [a] banker for Small Business Administration loans or [a] business counselor through [the organization] SCORE or the Small Business Development Center at Lone Star College. We spend a lot of time promoting our businesses. We use social media to promote not only the chamber but what other businesses in our community are doing.
What is a key point from the unification the chamber has undergone?
Individuals on both sides of the community had an inaccurate view of the other organization and what they brought to the unification. Both organizations—from what I can see—came in on equal footing, as far as financials and processes. While they were very different from a culture standpoint, they were very similar in [the] kinds of products and services they deliver[ed] to their members and the community. They were similar in the [amount] of money they brought to the table. Neither one of them was clearly superior to the other one, but in many ways [they were] similar chambers.
What are some of your accomplishments as president of the GMPCC?
We have instituted some programs that both chambers had on and off but didn’t [offer] immediately after the unification, such as the Government Affairs Council, which is designed to bring education and recommendations to the board of directors in regard to legislation that would benefit business owners and the community. We have a lot of members, and we can leverage our voice with our elected officials to help them understand what is important to business owners in this community. In addition, we have added the Young Leaders Council, which is designed to provide professional development and community service opportunities that will prepare members for their next roles of leadership. We have also started the Business Success Seminar Series.
How do you plan to expand the services of the chamber?
We have restructured our luncheon to make sure the content of the speaker is going to add value to each business owner. It is important for business owners and managers to use that knowledge that they learn at the luncheons in their planning processes. That is something else that I heard very clearly—if we are going to do our luncheons and people would have to take time away from their work, the information has to [be] valuable.