Local chambers of commerce turn to apps

aramos@newsobserver.comJuly 8, 2013 

— If some area chambers of commerce have their way, finding businesses and learning about special events won’t just be a click away – they’ll be a finger tap away.

Chambers of commerce, which serve as a voice for local business, are turning to free mobile applications to let people know what’s happening at stores, restaurants and more.

Apex, Fuquay-Varina and Wake Forest are part of the MyChamberApp, which allows users to click on screen tiles with business categories such as shopping, dining and automotive.

The Cary Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, is working to revamp its entire tech presence, including social media sites and apps.

Launching applications is not only a way to stay in tune with the latest technology, said Graham Wilson, executive director of the Apex Chamber of Commerce. It’s also a way to serve businesses’ customers.

On June 17, Apex became the latest area chamber to sign on for the MyChamberApp.

“It’s a heck of a lot easier than carrying around a membership directory,” Wilson said.

With a few taps on a mobile phone or tablet screen, users can find out about coupons, sales or special events happening at the 500 businesses that are registered with the chamber.

The app pulls up listings based on the user’s location through GPS technology.

“This mobile app puts our members’ business information in the palm of customers’ hands when they need it – when they are out and about, ready to buy,” said Apex chamber board member Paul Levering, who initiated the effort for the app.

Apex Wings is one of the businesses users can find through the application. Owner John Lack said he was thrilled.

“The exposure helps,” said Lack, whose restaurant is hard to see from the road. “You may not be able to quantify it, but the word gets out. ... It will be like one-stop shopping, like a welcoming committee to town.”

The Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce launched the MyChamberApp 18 months ago, said membership director Lynanne Fowle.

“With the mobile age, we realized we needed to have a mobile presence,” Fowle said. “It puts us into the 21st century.”

She said the technology has three major benefits: It’s a free way to find businesses, an easy way to check chamber activities and a good way to find discounts.

The Cary Chamber of Commerce may not be part of the mobile app phenomenon yet, but it will be.

“We are currently in the process of upgrading our Web site, Twitter, our overall media,” said Howard Johnson, president of the Cary Chamber. “Apps are a part of that.”

The new Web site and online services are expected to be ready by September.

“We’re always searching for ways to improve communications to and from our members,” Johnson said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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