The Southwest Michigan First Chamber provides local businesses with resources and opportunities to develop both professional skills and networks. To maintain the spirit of the Chamber community, the team transitioned events to virtual platforms while safety standards were adapted. Last week, the small business community ditched the Zoom calls and held its first socially-distanced Chamber Connect hosted at Kzoom. Jessica Penny, an associate at Southwest Michigan First who supports the Chamber, said she was pleased with how the event went. “Kzoom did an amazing job providing a safe and fun environment for our first event back. Our small business community is stronger together, and we are thankful for Kzoom’s partnership in making this opportunity to engage possible.”
Owner of Kzoom, local digital agency, and host of the July Chamber Connect, Dan Martin jumped on the opportunity to host when approached. “I miss seeing and interacting with people, not only for the networking benefit but also for that relational connection,” said Dan. “We’re connected to other people, in other places, and there’s a lot of value to that, to me as an individual, and also for our team.” One of Dan’s main priorities in hosting the connect was to help bring awareness to other local organizations and small businesses including Skinny Kenny’s BBQ, DJ Scott Herriman, and the Kalamazoo Marriage Resource. “There are people out there, that have these services, and some of them are very limited in what they can do to operate. When we adapt, that brings along other people in businesses as well. So, all of us can be functioning in a way to like we had been in the past, but just with some minor changes.”
In addition to this event serving as the summer kick-off for socially distanced Chamber Connects, the evening also highlighted the Chamber Champions, individuals advocating on behalf of the Chamber. “I am really excited about our group of Chamber Champions,” said Jessica. “They are passionate about the success of our Chamber businesses and I am so looking forward to witnessing the impact that they will make on our community!” Chamber Champion Frank Silva works at the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra as the director of operations. He decided to apply for the opportunity in an effort to grow his network. “I really appreciate the opportunity to expand my horizons and interact with people from different industries, different walks of life, different companies,” said Frank. What I’ve found is that there are more similarities than there are differences, and I’ve been looking for something that I want to get involved with, and this is the perfect thing for that.”
The next opportunity to meet the Chamber Champions and engage with the small business community is at the August Chamber Connect on August 5 at Gull Meadow Farms. Reserve your spot for this socially distanced event.