BRIDGMAN — The Greater Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance (CGA) held its sixth annual meeting on Feb. 25 in the Pebblewood Banquet Hall to, as CGA Board President Brett Boyd put it, celebrate “another successful year of growth and opportunity.”

He said the CGA is involved in a variety of projects intended to help bring people and businesses to the area.

“Those projects involve such things as demographic studies, meetings with potential developers and events like the Makers Trail Festival (the 2020 version is scheduled for June 13 at Weko Beach).

Boyd said the newest event, the Feb. 8 Polar Party, (organized by the Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence and the CGA) was a “fun-filled day” in the community.

He said nearly 200 students from Bridgman High School enjoyed pizza in the giant inflatable igloo and games on Friday night. On Saturday the Polar Party brought more than 500 people downtown for food, live music and fun events.

“There are several ways the Chamber benefits the community, particularly the business community. One resource … is Chamber 101,” Boyd noted.

He said the Chamber 101 meetings can provide many valuable  tips and ideas on how to utilize resources to maximize marketing, networking and other business opportunities.

The next Chamber 101 session is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 31 at Bridgman City Hall.

Boyd thanked Karen Falak of Pebblewood and Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber Regional Director Sarah Spoonholtz for planning the annual meeting.

Also speaking at the annual meeting was President and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber Arthur Havlicek, who said his family is from Chicago, but Southwest Michigan was their vacation spot of choice (first Union Pier and then Bridgman. Havlicek added that his parents still live in Bridgman.

“The reason we moved from Chicago is obvious. It’s a better place to live, work and raise a family,” he said.

Havlicek said he is excited to be in a position to make life better for future generations.

“I think Bridgman is specifically poised for some really awesome things because of the work that’s been done by a lot of the people in this room.”

Havlicek said the Bridgman CGA played an important role on the expansion of the Chamber’s member network and were a catalyst for rebranding the organization from the Cornerstone Chamber to the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber.

“I think our organization is stronger as a result of the merger and we’re now in a position to make Bridgman stronger too.”

Havlicek said the “best small town in the Midwest” has the top-notch attraction of Weko Beach, one of the top school districts in the state, great shops, restaurants, wineries, breweries, great leadership at the city, township and CGA, and a strategic location right off I-94 between New Buffalo and St. Joseph and a pivot point to wine country.

“We have all the ingredients of success. All it’s going to take is to keep the momentum, to tell the story. That’s what we’re here to do.”

The 2020 Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance Board of Directors are: President Brett Boyd; Vice President Beth McNeil; Secretary Shane Peters; Treasurer Bob Clark; Suzy Barnes; Georgia Gipson; Cheri Heward; Pat Heyn; Marty Mason; Kathy Ramso; Jim Stine; and Doug Wall. Peg Stine is bookkeeper.

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