Chamber works to expand, be more vocal

The Westfield Chamber of Commerce will be celebrating its 32nd anniversary in 2013, but Director Julie Sole said the organization would be behaving like it was brand new.

“We’re being reintroduced to the business community – those that have never been a member or haven’t been one in years,” she said.

To accomplish her goal of getting new members, Sole and the chamber are trying to visit and talk with as many businesses as possible.

“It’s pretty labor intensive,” she said. “We’re not exclusive. We’d like to build membership for a couple of different reasons.”

Sole said an increased membership size would bring a variety of interests and provide the chamber better feedback on issues from the business community when the city sought input.

“We pay attention to projects coming through,” Sole said of the chamber’s business development. “We’re stepping out and voicing our opinion.”

One such project the chamber is keeping an eye on is the potential changes at the 161st Street and Springmill Road intersection. Sole supports developing all four corners into retail and office space and sees the move as positive for the business world and community.

On the community development side, the chamber is watching as construction takes place throughout the city, including the Union Street Flats project, a $21-million apartment complex being built by J.C. Hart.

“As people start to see the progress really take place, that will prompt businesses to relocate,” Sole said.

The movement west with Grand Park Sports Complex and the Grand Park Village development also is interesting for the chamber.

“That’s going to be a huge stimulus to the area,” she said. “I think it’s going to deliver.”

All Hamilton County chamber of commerce’s are discussing ways to collaborate with one another to benefit members of all the organizations. Sole said the chambers currently host networking breakfast events and come together for commissioner Steve Dillinger’s annual State of the County address.

“We have two economic development luncheons with updates on projects within the community,” she said.

The chamber hosts its luncheons on the third Thursday of each month. Other important dates for chamber events include the June 10 golf outing at Bridgewater Golf Course and the Lantern Awards at Palomino Ballroom on Sept. 21. One of the big additions coming this year is a golf league. Sole said the league would likely begin in March and would be held Tuesday nights at Woodwind Golf Course.

“We continue to produce and provide good,” Sole said. “Our focus is to spread the word that we are here and invite (businesses) to be a member.”

Those interested in learning more about the Westfield Chamber of Commerce can visit www.westfield-chamber.com or call 804-3030. Memberships begin at $200 a year.