The Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is busy planning for 2019 and beyond. As part of their strategic planning process, the Directors reached out to members this month to ask how the Chamber could increase the value of their membership. The Board will use the feedback to develop long-term goals and a 2019 Action Plan.

It’s the perfect time for the Board to strengthen the Chamber’s role in the community as well through partnerships with our local municipalities and key organizations like The Pokagon Fund, the New Buffalo Business Association (NBBA), Cornerstone Alliance and neighboring Chambers of Commerce.

The Pokagon Fund’s recently completed community assessment identified two key issues that the Chamber has advocated on behalf of for several years: housing needs and improved broadband. We look forward to continuing to build on the work that has been done and determine how best we can support these critical initiatives as they advance.

The NBBA recently completed their strategic plan and has created new committees to help them re-energize downtown New Buffalo. We will continue to collaborate on business attraction and marketing efforts that help create and sustain a vibrant business community in Harbor Country.

Our five-year partnership with Cornerstone Alliance is producing great results. Entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses continue to seek help from the Three Oaks office. Local business owners find value in the Quickbooks and business planning training provided through Cornerstone’s Small Business Services and the Women’s Business Center. We look forward to working with Cornerstone and our local municipalities as we navigate through new opportunities (and challenges) presented by the recent legalization of marijuana.

The role of a Chamber of Commerce in a community varies. I’ve had the good fortune of building relationships with Chamber leaders in Bridgman, St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Buchanan, Stevensville, Coloma, and Michigan City. We get together several times a year to exchange best practices, problem solve, and discuss how we can work together. There have been a lot of personnel changes at the neighboring Chambers this year so I look forward to re-connecting in the coming year and keeping “the support group” going.

We look forward to sharing the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Strategic Plan with our members and the community in a few months.

— Viki Gudas is President/CEO of the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce

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