BELDING — Several local businessmen committed to building business in Belding have come together to revive and revamp the Belding Area Chamber of Commerce.
Dan Mitchell, the vice president at the Belding branch of Mercantile Bank of Michigan, is president of the newly revamped board of directors for the Belding Area Chamber. The vice president of the board for the Chamber is Spencer “Pep” Geisen, an associate broker for ReMax.
The rest of the board also consists of new members, including Superintendent of Belding Area Schools Brent Noskey and Keven Krieger, the director of Belding Dial-A-Ride and deputy treasurer for the city of Belding. Krieger serves as the executive director of the board.
The newly minted Chamber is gearing up for its membership drive. There will be a membership gathering for members, potential members and interested parties on March 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Candlestone Golf & Resort.
Mitchell said the reason the Chamber has been revamped and revitalized is to focus on bringing business to Belding and bettering the lives of citizens in Belding and the surrounding area.
“It’s been important to us to tie city, school and (the business) community together because it’s a three legged stool and all three have to be there and all three have to be strong in order for the other two to grow and be viable,” he said.
Mitchell said he hopes to emphasize good business practices working through the Chamber so people living in the Belding community will choose to find work within the city and the area when possible instead of heading to other cities in the area.
“If I’m leaving my hometown to go someplace else to work, then it’s my hometown that suffers,” he said. “If I have a kid that’s sick, I can’t get back there to that school to help out and I’m disconnected.”
He said it is the function of the Chamber to make sure all three of those components come together to create a positive environment.
“Rather than having people go to Grand Rapids to work, we’d rather have them work right here,” he said.
The Chamber is also focused on showing area residents the different businesses in the city to try to drive local employment. One way they plan to do this is to tweak the annual community showcase which takes place at the high school.
The showcase has typically taken place in April, but according to Mitchell, the event, which is being referred to as a business expo, will be moved to September. The Chamber will be taking over the brunt of the organizational detail from the schools.
“It was more of a nonprofit community organizational type event,” he said. “There wasn’t an awful lot of business involved in it.”
Mitchell said he hopes to have more businesses involved in the expo and draw more people in to see what businesses Belding has to offer.
“There may even be opportunities for businesses to have a presentation about what they do and what their products are,” he said. “The majority of the community couldn’t tell you what the different businesses manufacture, what they do and that might be a way to kind of showcase; especially for kids in high school who are looking at careers.”
Also featured during the business expo will be a job fair for potential employees to have some face time with business owners in the area.
While revamping the Chamber, Mitchell, Geisen and Krieger have worked with other members of the board to establish new goals.
Two goals Krieger said they’ve identified were “accountability and substance.”
Krieger said the membership fee for area businesses to join the Chamber was lowered to $100, a fee he said is very competitive with other fees for other local chambers of commerce. He said they wanted to earn the trust of area businesses and show them they could be accountable.
“We want to show them we’re giving substance and let them know we were taking their investment and using it to better Belding as a whole,” he said. “We want to push ourselves and get ourselves out there.”
One of the focuses at the upcoming membership gathering will be for Chamber members and potential members to tell members of the board what they want out of the Chamber and what they think areas of focus should be, according to Krieger.
Geisen said “any community out there that has a strong and viable chamber of commerce with a network of businesses usually results in a highly successful community of business.”
“We’re going to miss a few people out there. If they haven’t been approached by us … it’s not intentional that we’ve missed you,” he said. “At this point in time, we’d love to have you onboard.”