When people ask me what the Howard County Chamber of Commerce is all about, I usually have to clear up a few myths.
We are not part of the government, although we work closely with our elected officials. We are not the county information office, even though we try to help the folks who call us every day. We are not in charge of monitoring or rating businesses, although we can recommend some great local companies.
What we are is a membership organization for businesses that is constantly looking for ways to help our members grow and succeed so together we can build a strong and effective business environment.
We are guided by what is important to them. That may be serving as the “voice of business” so legislators know what will help our local companies thrive (and what will not). It may be providing valuable information and resources, or helping an individual find them elsewhere. It may be facilitating connections so a member can meet the elusive executive, potential partner or energetic employee that will make their next project a success.
Each year our calendar is chock full of opportunities for our members to learn, grow and connect. Member orientations are a great way to learn how to take advantage of everything a membership in the chamber has to offer, and to get staff members motivated about making the most of a company’s investment.
Our full schedule of events includes a variety of engaging options. People who are into politics and rubbing elbows with elected officials will enjoy the State of the County Luncheon, where the Howard County Executive delivers his vision for the coming year. Also, the annual Legislative Wrap-Up breakfast is where state elected officials answer guests’ tough questions about the General Assembly session.
Those who are looking to learn can attend our high-powered lunches, which deliver timely information from industry experts. For folks who want to have a great time while mingling with leaders from the business community, the holiday Jingle Mingle at Savage Mill and the gala Signature Event that packs Turf Valley are can’t-miss events.
We were delighted to kick off our GovConnects business-to-government initiative this year. Our volunteer leadership worked hard over many months to develop a program that will help our members gain access to the cyber and defense communities surrounding us in Howard County. Our upcoming Cyber Conference on May 29 will help businesses of every size to understand how to better protect themselves from cyberattacks and how to do business with the broader cybersecurity community.
Our Young Professionals Network (YPN) has continued to grow and exceed our greatest projections. These future leaders are well-versed in what it takes to succeed and the importance of connections. Their dedication to serving the community while having fun makes this popular group a real development tool for our county’s leadership.
Another exciting member benefit is our international chamber trips. Eighty-eight members and friends went to China last year and almost as many are already registered for Tuscany this fall. If it is all about relationships, there is no better way to get to know people than to travel together.
All of these opportunities and activities, as well as chamber news and member services, will be easy to find online as we launch a completely redesigned web site. The new site is appealing, well-organized and, thanks to a new mobile app, available on the go.
We are so fortunate to have the dedicated leadership of our hardworking board of directors lead by our chair, Duane Carey of Impact Marketing.
My sincerest thanks to all of them. To our committee chairs and active volunteers who become extension of our staff: Your tireless energy and enthusiastic efforts help us deliver more than we promise. Our fabulous Chamber Team couldn’t begin to accomplish all we do without all of your loyal support.