The holidays are the perfect time to not only fill our stockings, but also ourselves — and our friends, family, staff and peers — with gratitude and goodwill.
Here at the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, we are filled with gratitude for the amazing year 2013 has proven to be, as well as the promise of a new year that will be filled with new and continued opportunities. Not surprisingly, our resolution is the same resolution we live by every day: our mission to strengthen member businesses. How we do that varies — be it through economic development, workforce development or other means. But the gist of it is that we’re here to build our members’ businesses. The right opportunities here — be it for engagement, investment or other purposes — are what build business. And business is what builds community, the community all of us are in the midst of adorning with festive decorations.
The opportunities I’m most excited about include the most imminent one — the chamber’s annual holiday Business After Hours — which is coming up fast on Wednesday, Dec. 11. This is an opportunity for us to take pause and share goodwill with fellow chamber members in a setting that showcases one of our community’s jewels, the National Railroad Museum. Most of us know goodwill to mean kindness, friendliness or benevolence. What I find intriguing is that goodwill can also be defined as commerce. Dictionary.com defines commerce as an “intangible, yet salable asset that arises from the reputation of a business and its relations with its customers.” The December Business After Hours is an opportunity —– as it always is — to meet fellow members you may not know but also to reconnect with customers, vendors and peers to extend — and receive — goodwill in all definitions of the word. Tickets are required for this very popular event, unlike other Chamber Business After Hours. Call to arrange for yours: (920) 437.8704.
On the economic development forefront, Advance is in the process of finalizing a Capital Catalyst grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for $100,000. This requires a private match that Advance is in the process of raising. What this will represent to business: The $200,000 will expand the Advance Microloan program’s capital base to enable more microloans to be issued. Start-up companies and entrepreneurs are the benefactors of this program, many of whom are not eligible for more traditional means of financing. Entrepreneurs are a lifeblood of our economy, and it’s always heartening to learn how businesses have been able to grow to the next level with these microloans. To date, the program has 24 active loans representing active loans of approximately $736,000. Learn more about the microloan program at www.titletown.org/microloan.
In that same vein, the first “Connect! Local information for starting and growing businesses” event geared to women- and minority-owned businesses in September prompted us to offer a series of Connect! events for January, February and April. The first, set for Tuesday, Jan. 21, will kick off a financial series targeting topics including when to hire an accountant, financial statements 101 and how to avoid bankruptcy. More information on these will be shared via the chamber e-newsletters and will be featured on events.titletown.org as the events grow closer.
On the workforce development forefront, we’re compiling the 1,600-plus nominations for Golden Apple Awards that students and families submitted on behalf of their dedicated educators. These eligible teachers can then submit an application to continue the Golden Apple Award process. An aside to that: If you’re passionate about this 21-year-old program, please consider being a volunteer reader of the Golden Apple teacher applications on Monday, Jan. 20, or Tuesday, Jan. 21, or both, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. We can’t do the Golden Apple Awards without volunteers, so please consider this “golden opportunity.” If you can read, please contact Dan Terrio at (920) 593.3406.
Come Feb. 20, our Current young professionals will host the Future 15 and Young Professional Awards at the Hyatt on Main/KI Convention Center. Right now, volunteers are reviewing the record-breaking number of award applications. Recipients — who exhibit this generation’s leadership — will be celebrated at the event, which never ceases to amaze me with its ingenuity, energy and creativity. While it caters to and celebrates young professionals, all ages are represented in the audience! More info will be posted on titletown.org as the event nears.
On the advocacy forefront, we’re looking forward to Business Day in Madison on Thursday, Feb. 6. Our economy, business climate and political leadership are all at a critical point. WMC’s Business Day in Madison will provide you with a glimpse into politics, the economy, international affairs and leadership. Join other business leaders for several great opportunities to connect, premier speakers, an address by Gov. Scott Walker and a trip to the capitol to meet your legislative delegation. Check out more at BusinessDayinMadison.com.
Reflecting on the past year, and what the forthcoming year will bring, I think I can speak for the entire chamber in saying how thankful we are to serve you and to be your resource for access, solutions, connectivity and advocacy. And I hope you have a joyous holiday season as both the giver and recipient of goodwill. William Arthur Ward said it best: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
Laurie Radke is president of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at (920) 593-3405 or email@example.com.