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Chamber touts member benefits to small businesses

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SELMA — The Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce says it’s reaching out to smaller locally owned businesses along with larger businesses and industries.

Chamber President and CEO Mike Mancuso met with business owner Jeff Watson at Mozelle’s, a new restaurant located at 204 S. Massey St. Selma Parks and Recreation event planner Melissa Dooley also attended the meeting.

“We have added 80 new members to the organization this year. Most start with a meeting like we had with Mr. Watson,” said Mancuso. “Almost all have come to me as an introduction from another member that sees value in their membership and the mission and vision of the chamber and shared it with folks that could benefit from membership.”

Mancuso said the key to what the chamber can accomplish for a business is how the owner uses it.

“The chamber can do a lot for a business, but the key is using your membership. I tell folks it’s like buying a shiny new car, if you don’t drive it you get no benefit and you get no value for your investment,” said Mancuso. “The chamber is working very hard to help educate our members on the value of their membership and how to leverage it to help them connect, grow and prosper.”

Mancuso said that next year, the chamber will announce more benefits and tools with training on how to use them.

“Also, most of our benefits are available for the member, their employees and family members,” said Mancuso . I’m happy to sit with any business to have a conversation about the chamber, what we do and how membership can benefit them, their business and employees, all while helping the chamber help our communities.”

The majority of Johnston County businesses are small, said Mancuso.

“If you look at our economy and market, 75 percent of our businesses have five employees or under,” said Mancuso. “We need to support these businesses. Five employees is a small business and those are found across Johnston County.”

Watson said his restaurant has four employees.

Mancuso said joining the chamber means more for businesses, large or small, than just membership in another organization.

“We’re a marketing tool,” said Mancuso. “We offer businesses a 25 percent savings on health care, 75 percent savings for employees on pharmaceuticals and flu shots for $25. We’re here to help.”

Mancuso said chamber member benefits include networking with other businesses, training opportunities and use of chamber facilities for meetings.

“Some businesses don’t renew their membership with the chamber because they feel the chamber didn’t do anything for them,” said Dooley. “Well, I wonder if those businesses went to the networking events...Did they participate in the chamber activities or committees? A membership in the chamber is just like a membership in the gym, you don’t get anything out of it if you don’t go.

“The chamber is all about the small business. They do advocate for them and they do support them.”

Watson said he planned to join the chamber and said his restaurant features a diverse menu.

“I see my restaurant as ranging from deep Southern to delicacies, including steak and seafood,” said Watson. “We will also feature live entertainment and catering for all kinds of events.”

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