The Member Services division was motivated by a profound sense of urgency to adapt programs and services that are core to the Chamber’s mission. The team worked the phones relentlessly to check in on the status of members. That continuous connection with members during a tumultuous year helped to broaden our thinking on how best to serve Flint & Genesee’s business community going forward.
Working in tandem with our internal divisions and departments, the Member Services staff served as frontline connectors to the relief services for small businesses offered through the Chamber and partner agencies at the local, state and federal levels. The Chamber also provided universal access to business services during this extraordinary time; Chamber membership was waived.
Once the Michigan Stay Home Stay Safe order was executed, the Chamber responded quickly, transitioning to virtual offerings. With speed and agility, the Member Services team managed on short notice to assemble subject matter experts for participation in a variety of informational webinars on different COVID relief programs. This not only allowed us to continue programming but also, helped us reach a larger audience in 2020 over the previous year. Business training attendance was 1,533 in 2020 compared to 1,199 in 2019.
Last year, 42 training and professional development opportunities were offered to help small businesses and entrepreneurs build capacity on a range of business topics, with nearly 1,800 participants. Post-event surveys found that 98 percent of participants were likely to recommend a Chamber training and/or development opportunity to a friend or colleague.
Lead Now Flint & Genesee hosted its sixth cohort with 15 participants graduating the yearlong leadership development program. Lead Now continued programming and one-on-one coaching virtually, and launched an online learning platform to continue leadership development outside of virtual program days. The Chamber’s decision to go virtual stood in contrast to similar leadership development programs around the country whose parent organizations decided to postpone their 2020 cohorts due to the pandemic. The Chamber’s cohort also completed a service project with The Good Church, a faith-based organization in North Flint, to provide consultation and planning services for its community laundromat, The Good Laundry, launching in 2021.
Although most in-person Chamber events had to be canceled, luncheons and after-hours networking continued using various software platforms. The implementation of new safety procedures allowed the annual golf outing to go on as planned, although it was rescheduled to the fall.
The division also repositioned event sponsorships to provide value in new ways. With the cancellation of most in-person events, such as the monthly luncheons and meetings, the team worked with sponsors to provide them with ads in email blasts, and on the Chamber’s website and social media channels.
To close out the year, the annual Art of Achievement Awards was re-imagined creating ‘Twenty in ‘20’, which celebrated those who made a unique and positive impact in Flint and Genesee County in 2020. The honorees – which included ordinary citizens, business owners, medical workers and community leaders – were featured in a special edition of the November-December 2020 issue of AND magazine and highlighted on the Chamber’s social media platforms.