|Setting the Example|
Setting the example
Regional Chambers turn partnership into business development momentum
In Greater Lansing, the Chambers of Commerce turn people, ideas and energy into initiatives that advance businesses and the homes they support.
“It’s important to be a leader in the initiatives that are going to help the region continue on the path of economic prosperity,” said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The Chambers need to step into leadership roles because they’re in a perfect position to lead those discussions. We all have relationships at the local, state and federal levels and together, we represent 3,000 businesses.”
In addition to the Lansing Regional Chamber, the region is home to the Clinton County, Charlotte, DeWitt, Grand Ledge, Eaton Rapids, Mason and Williamston chambers of commerce. Together, they represent businesses and communities throughout Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. Their contributions reach into recruiting businesses, providing regional information to potential residents, supporting schools, planning events that fill hotels, restaurants and create traffic for retail stores and more.
In 2015, their most strategic role may be welcoming people to become part of regional initiatives that will shape the future of Michigan’s capitol.
“People from the region work together if there’s a new business looking to locate to the area or seeking grants,” said Brenda Terpening, Executive Director of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce. “If a business moves into the region, we all benefit.”
“Collaboration between regional and state agencies has helped spur new investment into the community,” said Grace Boehmer, Executive Director of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. “We are hopeful that this investment and momentum will continue through 2015, bringing more business to Charlotte and the surrounding areas.”
Partnerships cross borders. While some of the chambers’ partnerships have crossed borders for years, others are new. Some involve municipalities and others bring retailers, industries, banks, non-profit organizations and even educators together with one outcome in mind—advancing the economic wellbeing of Greater Lansing.
“Partnerships with the increasing number of financial institutions, service providers, retailers, restaurants, organizations and many other specialty businesses serve the influx of new residents and people working in our area,” said Doug Klein, Executive Director of the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce.
An example of how the chambers are developing partnerships is found in shared fire services between the cities of Lansing and East Lansing and the townships of Meridian, Delta, Delhi and Lansing. The Shared Fire Services Initiative is improving response times and saving money. A Joint Arson Task Force and use of a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System are steps that have been taken toward improved safety.
Chamber leads the transformation. The Lansing Regional Chamber has been a natural leader for the endeavor. It specializes in finding commonalities within a collection of different businesses and organizations every day. After all, it meets the unique needs of more than 1,300 member businesses with thousands of employees.
In 2014, the Lansing Regional Chamber grew its members and revenue base to ensure its long-term participation in the area’s transformation.
“The Greater Lansing area is on the verge of seeing more development than we have seen in the last decade,” said Bill Kimble, Past Chair of the Lansing Regional Chamber. “We’re seeing new developments going in across the region, especially along the Michigan Avenue Corridor.”
In addition to the fire services, Kimble expects the tri-county area to create more shared services.
“The government entities will need to work hand-in-hand with private industry as well to see the greatest results. LEAP, the chambers and others will play a major role in helping Greater Lansing benefit from the positive and monumental events happening here.”
While the Shared Fire Services Initiative is a success between municipalities, it’s not the first to occur in the tri-county area. C2AE has played a role in regional efforts for more than 45 years, including General Motors’ commitment to build two new plants in the region, Accident Fund locating its world headquarters downtown, BWL’s construction of a $182 million cogeneration power plant, improvements to local roads and development of miles of pathways connecting area communities.
As the 2014 Chair of the Regional Lansing Chamber, he has been at the table during many of the discussions that are setting the area up for collaborative breakthroughs similar to what has been experienced in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Boulder, Colorado.
“For our region to continue to have the economic success we’re experiencing now, we have to continue to work as one—and that includes working together whether the cause is regional public transportation or recruiting new business and talent into the region,” Daman said.
Throughout 2015, the chambers are continuing to lead by example. They’re providing value to their members in direct and indirect ways by investing their time and energy into promoting Greater Lansing as an environment where people work together to achieve regional prosperity.