Gearing up for a successful 2012

Indian Trail Business Association launches advocacy commission, new website

by Josh Whitener

The Indian Trail Business Association may be less than a year old, but the league of local businesses and nonprofits is already showing signs of a seasoned pro as it launches new endeavors for a successful 2012. The association held its first meeting of the new year Thursday, Jan. 26, to discuss upcoming events and enhancements aimed at maximizing success for these companies.

Formed in the summer of 2011, the ITBA was created to provide Indian Trail business owners the networking tools needed to survive in this economy. Bob Klemas, owner of Just Chillin’ Frozen Yogurt, wanted to be more integrated in the community and joined the ITBA when it was formed.

“We started our store to be part of this community,” Klemas said. “(The ITBA) seemed like a good place to be involved. I really like the idea of focusing on Indian Trail, supporting Indian Trail businesses.”

The ITBA is introducing several new amenities to its members, one of which is the newly formed Commission on Business Advocacy. The commission was formed to create an effective channel of communication between government and local businesses. The commission ensures the needs of local businesses are heard in a government setting to encourage elected officials to consider these companies when passing ordinances that may affect them.

Dr. Sonny Gotro of Gotro Chiropractic & Sports Medicine gave a presentation on the commission and what it will mean to members of the ITBA. “We have formed a business advocacy group solely for (small businesses) to have a voice,” Gotro said. “So you can come speak to us, and we can relate those matters to the town council of Indian Trail.”

Another amenity members can enjoy is the new website: www.itsinindian The site was formed to help local businesses and nonprofits connect with local residents and is currently up and running.

ITBA members use the site to create profiles with information, such as photos, videos, links, descriptions, upcoming events and maps.  Local businesses also can advertise promotional offers, and nonprofits can solicit donations and sponsorships.

Residents can also use the site as what association members call a “one-stop portal for anything and everything in the town.” The site is mobile-compatible and socially integrated, allowing users to easily share content on Facebook and receive updates via Twitter.

Nathan Workman, director of the ITBA, believes that linking social media to the website is the key to the success of these local companies.

“I think being able to push things out through Facebook and having people integrate this with their social network is going to get a lot of visibility,” Workman said. “People can really see that there is quite a bit going on in Indian Trail.”

In an effort to give small business owners an extra leg to stand on, the ITBA offers free business education classes. The association partnered with South Piedmont and Central Piedmont community colleges to provide classes to members at no cost.

Through taking these classes, members learn how to use social media to promote their business, what intellectual property is and how to protect it, the best methods of hiring and firing, and many other techniques that can make or break a company.

Members of the ITBA were also made aware of a major upcoming community event that may very well give their businesses a boost: the arrival of the Vietnam Moving Wall in Indian Trail this summer. The Moving Wall will be displayed at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2423 from June 14, to June 18, and more than 50,000 people are expected to attend the viewing of this memorial.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to have this Moving Wall stop in Indian Trail,” Darlene Luther, Indian Trail council member, said. “In addition to that, it’s going to be good for our businesses, too, especially hospitality and restaurants.”

One of the ITBA’s main principles is “keeping the dollar local.” Indian Trail council member Robert Allen urged attendants to recycle their dollar by supporting local businesses. “If you keep your dollar within the confines of your municipality, the impact is unbelievable,” Allen said. “If you drop your money in Charlotte, it’s gone.”

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