For over 132 years, the mission of the Grand Rapids Chamber has been to foster a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all. Over 2,400+ members come to the Chamber in both times of growth, and times of need. Providing resources and connections related to the following three areas of work: Government Affairs, Business Services and Talent Development, remains of utmost importance to the Grand Rapids Chamber team.
The Chamber employs 28 staff members as subject matter experts in diverse areas of specialization. They are your consultants, your resource concierge, and your fierce advocates for business. Additionally, the Chamber hosts face-to-face and virtual events year-round that educate and facilitate business capacity building.
Immediately following the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Rapids Chamber activated The Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund, which has since granted just over $963,000 to area businesses and continues to raise funds for future grant opportunities for effected businesses. In addition to the activation of the Foundation, the team has launched a Coronavirus toolkit and holds frequent resource calls with area leaders. Events and programs have pivoted to virtual models in order to continue providing networking and capacity building opportunities. Finally, the team proactively reaches out to members to ensure business owners are able to tackle new barriers and opportunities through advocacy and business services, daily.
The Grand Rapids Chamber has heard from several members regarding the benefits of their Chamber membership during this time:
Amy Venema from 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications received assistance from Mark Allen, Director of Business Services
“We have been member of Chamber for years, we have always valued the connections, educational opportunities and other services offered. In a time of crisis, the Grand Rapids Chamber stepped up in a big way. COVID-19 hit all of us fast and hard, businesses especially small ones were scrambling. If you are part of Chamber you probably know Mark, what Mark doesn’t know is that he has become one of our best friends. He answered every email, frantic phone call and walked along side us through every setback and change.
We have an amazing team, we are smart, motivated, organized and of course badass. I believe we would have made it through this pandemic, we are too resilient to quit, and we pivoted quickly. BUT it would have been a hell of a lot harder without the Chamber. I was told once to look for helpers, thank you Chamber for being the helpers! It has become clear your heart for this community. Well done, Chamber, well done! “- Amy Venema, Office Manager, 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications
Lisa Beene from Rising Grinds has catered the chamber’s ELEVATE Programs. The Chamber continues to look for new opportunities to support local Minority Owned Business. Lisa has shared her valuable experience with Ken James, Director of Inclusion.
“The Chamber has been an invaluable resource for us at Rising Grinds. Even before Covid, the Chamber staff not only supported us through providing resources and industry specific education, but at a very practical level they frequently used us to cater their various events. Ken has even called me in to share with different groups he’s hosted, to promote the cafe and our services. As a very small start-up, having him as an advocate for us at tables we are not at, or even aware of, has been something we are deeply grateful for.
When the pandemic hit, the Chamber was one of the first organizations to reach out to us with different opportunities – from webinars, support groups, and even funding sources. I cannot say enough good things about the Chamber, I am humbled by and thankful for their consistent support.”- Lisa Beene, Owner, Rising Grind Café
Griffin Cobean attended Leadership Advantage with Barbara Rapaport during the quarantine and shares his experience.
“As an individual who is always looking for credible resources to help my professional and personal growth, I often turn to the Grand Rapids Chamber. Their high-quality, relevant programs and events are led by top-notch industry professionals. Having gone through a good portion of the Leadership Advantage program through the chamber, and as a frequenter of monthly events, I can personally attest to this. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Chamber stood by, ready to assist in whatever way they could; one example being that they adapted to the new environment and moved the Leadership Advantage program to an online meeting place.
I am grateful that my employer is a member of the Grand Rapids Chamber because it opens up a lot of opportunities that elsewhere might not be available to me.” -Griffin Cobean, Senior Account Manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield
Dr. Rochelle Manor shares her experience working with our Government Affairs resources and Business Services meetings.
“BRAINS has been Chamber members for years, but it’s only been in the past few years that we really began to connect and take advantage of things the Chamber has to offer.
We have benefitted greatly from the EOS supports. Self-implementing for several years, the EOS Quarterly meet-ups and EOS User Group meetings have been inspirational and extremely helpful. We’ve been impressed watching the Chamber’s own journey through EOS and greatly appreciate the stories and resources. The support and encouragement with EOS was critical to helping our company gain strength and stability before COVID-19 hit.
Through the pandemic, the Chamber has been a tremendous resource in ways we’d never imagined we’d need. Our administrative team has watched several webinars, accessed resources through the Coronavirus Toolkit, and appreciated the regular email updates. Because of information learned though the Chamber, our company was one of the first to secure a PPP loan in mid-April- a life-saver for our small business. We feel better prepared for Back-to-Work, knowing best practices.” – Dr. Manor, Neuropsychologist , BRAINS
Anthony Torres, owner of Fresh Coast Kitchen, shares his experience as a new member and why he decided to join the membership after working with the Grand Rapids Chamber staff.
“In my experience one of the largest values to a partnership is follow through. The responsiveness and ability to deliver resourceful answers or contacts by the Chamber was impressive. I haven’t worked with a group that provides this type of value in a long time. Specifically during this unprecedented time of Covid19, they were ahead of every other contact I was utilizing to gather information and find trustworthy answers. They were very fast in tracking down reliable answers and often were providing insight proactively. And this benefit was being provided to me even without being a member! So joining the chamber was an easy decision to make and my experience has continued to exceed expectations.” – Anthony Torres, Owner, Fresh Coast Kitchen
Interested in learning more? Contact Laura Traxler, Director of Membership.