Greg Voss started out in the sports and entertainment field following his graduation from the University of Maryland, but he eventually settled in St. Johns County in 2014 as the vice president of operations for the Chamber of Commerce. Far removed from big league promotions and scheduling, Voss now is committed to helping businesses throughout the county survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of dwelling on what’s not available, Voss insists the best solution is to be creative with the tools that are available.
How challenging has it been for the Chamber during these past few months as COVID-19 forced businesses to shutdown and kept many residents at home?
It’s been challenging, but at the same time it’s offered us opportunities to be innovative. We’re doing a heck of a lot more with online platforms. We’re doing webinars very frequently. We’re doing one once a week right now. We’re able to feature what we call Chamber conversation. One of our staff will chat with a member and ask them how they’re improving and how they’re challenging themselves, how they are innovating their business. It’s challenging when you can’t do it in person. At the same time, it does put you in a situation where you have to be a little bit more creative. What are the things we can do that have value to businesses, and where can we help?
What are some of the things you’ve done to help businesses during the slowdown/shutdown?
We’ve pushed our gift card program through our website for not just members, but people in general to shop with Chamber members. We’re pushing a lot more through our website with respect to the deals that are being offered to Chamber members and the general public to shop at their places of business. While it’s been a challenge, it’s created some opportunities that we’ve taken advantage of.
Has the pandemic changed the way we’re going to do business in the future?
The way we’re doing things now – the webinars are a good example – that’s something we can do moving forward. When we are back to in-person style, these webinars are going to be part of our programing as we move forward. In terms of how that impacts business moving forward. I think until we get to a point where people feel generally good about going out, you’re going to want to have alternatives for those folks. One of the things I can tell you we will be doing is when we go back to large, in-person events – and we plan on having those in-person events as soon as we can – but at the same time we are going to have an online component to that so if you can’t participate in person, you have to be at your office, you can call in and participate virtually. You’re going to see a lot of that. We’re learning from this. We’re learning how to be innovative from this. We’re going to be smarter about these things. We’re going to make it possible for people who can’t get out of their business for one reason or another to participate online. That’s an exciting thing.
Will innovation may prove to be an unintended consequence of this pandemic?
If we have all these restrictions on movement and all these restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more, then you have to figure out what can we do to be consistent and fill our mission while adhering to some of the guidelines? It forces you to be better. You’re still living in a competitive world. It forces you to think about ways you can do something, the way you respond.
What is your background?
I worked at the Chamber in Clay County before I came here. I worked for a couple professional teams when I got out of school. I worked for the Washington Capitals and the Washington Redskins. My first job out of college was minor league hockey. That was kind of cool. Sports and entertainment is what I did. I also worked at a jazz hall in the area. I was the marketing director for the club.