At the heart of our local economy and the backbone of virtually every great community you’ll find a chamber of commerce celebrating and promoting the diversity and uniqueness of their community. Chambers of Commerce help form the fabric of America. Their efforts result in business attraction, job creation, improved education, beautification and more. Despite all of this, the question is still often asked, “What is the Chamber of Commerce?” Technically, chambers of commerce are business associations generally incorporated as a 501(c)(6) that work diligently to improve the economic, cultural, and overall business climate for the areas they serve. They are typically private, not-for-profit corporations. Chambers are governed by a volunteer board of directors and employ professional staff to accomplish their mission. While that is impressive, it is the daily work of chambers that moves communities, the state and this nation forward. Today’s chambers of commerce focus on a broad range of activities and support for both business and the community at large. From community and workforce development initiatives to welcoming visitors and information dissemination, to state and local advocacy efforts, chamber professionals and members work with other talented leaders in business, community and government to create a positive environment and to make the community a better place to work, live and play. The beauty of chambers of commerce is that they truly embody the spirit of entrepreneurship, ingenuity and innovation of their communities and the businesses they represent; therefore, specific programs, products and services vary by chamber and are tailored specifically to the needs of the local community. These programs often include:
One-stop shops for visitor information or services related to starting a business, getting elected to public office or finding a job
Business development and growth programs for large and small businesses
Advocating for pro-business as well as important community relevant programs, opportunities or legislation and to form public and private alliances
Custom research, local/regional economic forecasts, or other analysis
This list goes on. Whether it is economic development, tourism, community festivals and events, or those mentioned above, the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce is the “go to” resource for information in this area. It is the convener of people and a place where things get done. In short, chambers of commerce provide the community leadership necessary to develop the economic well-being of their region. Here in Cheboygan we say, “Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, LEADS Cheboygan.” The letters of LEADS are an acronym for Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, Development and Support. Our local Board of Directors and staff use these words to direct our actions for our members and the community. As you see, chambers of commerce are involved in many facets of the community (sometimes quietly) to help create places we call home. October is Chamber of Commerce month in Michigan. This month is set aside annually to reflect and show our appreciation and celebrate the work of many dedicated individuals, businesses and organizations across the state and especially here in Cheboygan. Now that you have a better sense of what the chamber is, you can better understand the role that we play in our community. With this new knowledge, take a moment to stop in and meet your chamber of commerce staff and learn more about the work we do and the efforts we make on behalf of you, our members and the community. If you are interested in becoming more engaged with your local Chamber of Commerce, we would like to invite you to attend one of our “Chamber Open House” days. Weekly, Monday October 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. As a special feature of our weekly open houses this year, we are hosting a round table question and answer session with each of the four key note speakers from the State of the Community Breakfast which will be held on Friday October 5th at the Opera House. (tickets are available online at www.cheboygan.com or in the office located in Washington Park) A schedule of these round table sessions will be announced at the State of the Community Breakfast. We would love to see you and share with you some of our upcoming plans. In closing we would like to say thank you. A Chamber of Commerce is a working partnership on many levels. It involves members, a staff, a board of directors, an ambassador team, event committee members, sponsors and the community at large. Without all those partnerships and participation we would not be able to be successful. So, thank you to all of you for supporting us in what we do for this outstanding community called Cheboygan!