The African American Advisory Committee (AAAC) has long served as a liaison between the region’s African American business community and the Flint & Genesee Chamber. After deciding it was time for a refresh, the committee refocused its efforts and started 2022 under the leadership of new co-chairs.
Chamber membership is not required to join the AAAC, which saw its participation grow from 20 members to 150 over the last year. Rather, the committee partners with the Chamber to support the advancement and development of African American businesses. Collectively, they are committed to identifying vital resources for business owners, supporting economic development, and fostering strong community partnerships.
The committee currently meets on a monthly basis to help African American entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders connect and support each other in their efforts. Each meeting includes networking, a feature of local businesses, and information on a major business resource, such as access to capital.
In 2022, the Flint & Genesee Chamber fully resumed its in-person events lineup, which experienced a return to pre-pandemic attendance numbers. Between major events and monthly networking offerings—including Chamber Luncheon, After-Hours Wine Down, and the new Connect Over Coffee—the division regularly provided a forum for the business community to gather.
At the same time, the Chamber leaned into the resources of its fellow divisions to better serve their collective audience. For instance, the Chamber worked with the Economic Alliance to support new BIPOC-owned businesses utilizing the Flint & Genesee Business Bridge. Those who signed on for the Bridge had the opportunity to take advantage of an introductory membership to the Chamber at no cost to them.
This introductory membership, which provides limited Chamber benefits for up to a year, allows the Chamber to be more inclusive of new business and entrepreneurs. It helps businesses who are transitioning from a startup phase to something more established realize the benefits of membership. It opens them up to the larger Chamber network, its training opportunities, and resources.
Throughout 2022, the Chamber surveyed members and gathered feedback from its advisory committee to better understand the long-term goals and needs of its diverse membership base. By listening to member feedback and watching for trends around needs and opportunities, the Chamber was better able to attract and retain members.
In total, the Chamber welcomed 124 new members, up 73% from the year before. The division also saw fewer member drops, with a retention rate of 99.2%.