Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Does the Omaha Chamber support Entrepreneurs???

As we were filming a video on Mortgage Pledge and its history we realized it has a great tie into Omaha at many levels. We thought as we took it national it would be great to have an Omaha leader speak about it to really help give Omaha some kudos. So we asked the Chamber to have Dave Brown speak in our Mortgage Pledge launch video. We thought it would be a good thing for Mortgage Pledge and Omaha to have him participate because of the ties between the two. This was an excerpt from the email we sent him with our potential talking points:

  • Mortgage Pledge
  • The idea came from my year with the Leadership Omaha program. That program strives to get local leaders more involved in the community. I decided to use my entrepreneurial talents to come up with a way to create sustainable giving streams for any community through Mortgage Pledge.
  • Omaha is a city with great ties to philanthropy. The Omaha Community Foundation has agreed to facilitate the giving for Mortgage Pledge nationwide.
  • Mortgage Pledge is an example of social entrepreneurship inspired by community involvement. Mortgage Pledge and Omaha can be catalysts for more social entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Something along these lines would be good. Not certain what else might work.
This was the Chamber's response:

  • David Brown and his assistant, Alecia, asked me to connect with you about the videotaping request. I am trying to do research and I'm hoping you can help. I'm sending to all of you because you're listed on the various emails. Unless I am missing something (and I might be), David doesn't seem to know anything about this project. The email traffic I've seen doesn't have enough information for me to suggest he participate in this project - only a few comments about social entrepreneurship. I am not sure what you need from him, the purpose of the video production or why you want him to participate. I did check out the Mortgage Pledge Web site and have talked briefly with Sarah Boyd at the Community Foundation.

  • Based on what little information I have now, I'm not comfortable with David's involvement in a video and will have to decline your request for participation at this point in the project.

  • Karla Ewert
  • Vice President-Communications
This was my response:

  • Karla, I am a little upset with your response for the following reasons:
  • 1 I am an Omaha business person trying to start a grass roots business in Omaha. I would think the Omaha Chamber of Commerce would be in support of such a venture because of the potential benefit to Omaha. Especially a venture that has the potential national reach and recognition.
  • 2 I developed the idea for Mortgage Pledge initially during my time with Leadership Omaha, a Omaha Chamber of Commerce program. It was there I gained an appreciate for Community Leadership and the idea of giving back to communites.
  • 3 We reached out to David for an opportunity to promote Omaha in our Mortgage Pledge launch video. So that Omaha could be represented properly as a city that supported Social Entrepreneurial ventures, community leadership, and the new venture creation.
  • While I understand that David's time is valuable and that promtion of a fledging start-up Omaha Social Entrepreneurial Venture may not be a top priority, it is these very types of companies that fuel our local economies and make jobs for our city.
  • I have been a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce during my tenure as founder and President of Homesmartz. In fact, we were recognized by the chamber as the 7th fastest growing company in Omaha just a few years ago. Although at the time, David was not at the Chamber, I would think members there would still recognize the fact that I've been involved in business in this community for quite some time.
  • Although I disagree with your assessment of whether David should be involved or not, I will respect your decision. Mortgage Pledge will be a successful Omaha venture with our without the support of the chamber.
  • Joe Frost
  • Chief Go-Giver
So, does the Chamber support Entrepreneurs or am I just a little sensitive? Please let me know.


David said...

They'll come around eventually, but this time they'll probably be begging. They'll want you to do a video to promote technology in Omaha and you will have to "decline".

Also though, she doesn't seem totally opposed to David being in the video she seems to just not be comfortable yet. I would ask her what she wants and wear her out satisfying every request until she has no choice.

Brian Smith said...

Could be dangerous to answer, BUT... during a conversation I had with one of the people named in your post, it was mentioned that the overwhelming majority of the Chamber's membership dues come from a small number of large businesses. (You can probably name them.) Therefore, they get the play.

In my experience, change comes from people like you. And me. And Slobotski.

alex said...

It seems to me that they don't know enough (or didn't bother spending the time to learn enough) about Mortgage Pledge. If they really understood the program, granting your request would be a no-brainer.
It also seems to me, based on the response they gave you, that they failed to see that you were extending your invitation to participate. Instead, I think they saw this as you seeking their endorsement, as a way to promote Mortgage Pledge. - Again, this goes back to them not understanding what it is and also your abilities as the person behind the program.

Zach Origitano said...

Wow what a shocking and disappointing response. They are missing out. I agree that they will come around someday...like when you are being interviewed on Big Idea with Donny D.

Johnny said...

Wow, seems like the VP of Communications needs a class in either reading comprehension or email organization........