As I approach my ten year anniversary with The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, I find myself reflecting on the last decade of my professional life and the many experiences I’ve had working for a Chamber of Commerce. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned, is that once you’ve seen one chamber you’ve seen just one chamber. Chambers are some of the oldest organizations in the world and are connected by the name “Chamber of Commerce”, and are typically an association of business people. That’s about where the similarities end. Chambers are a uniquely diverse group of independent, membership organizations that serve their communities in a variety of ways. I have also learned that such diversity can lead to confusion about what chambers do. I have often heard the phrase “I’m not sure if you can help me, but I thought to call the chamber first.”
Here is a list of 10 things you may not know about The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce:
- We are celebrating our 95th year in operation
- We are an independent, non-profit organization with no organizational connection with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- We have no partisan affiliation and do not make political contributions
- We have a 16 member board of directors made up of local business leaders making decisions for our local chamber
- The Chamber has a foundation that places full-time Graduation Coaches at all three of the local high schools to focus on the needs of students at risk of dropping out
- The majority of your local chamber staff, including the President & C.E.O. are women (10 women, 4 men)
- Nearly 80% of our membership is made up of businesses with 25 or fewer employees
- We offer over 25 FREE networking events or educational programs for our members annually
- We have over 200 local volunteers serving in a variety of capacities without which we would not be able do what we do.
- The most unusual call our office has received in recent years is a caller asking if there were any clothing optional parks in Bloomington. We referred them to the City Parks and Recreation Department.
The most rewarding experience I’ve had, by far, during the past decade is having the pleasure of working with so many incredible individuals. From bright, young interns to well-seasoned professionals, I have learned from them all and become a better person, as I continue to serve our members to bring about better business and a better community.