It’s graduation season, probably many of you are have celebrated with friends and family, or are about to. This past Thursday I got to celebrate a friend graduating from the Independence LEAD program. The LEAD program stands for Leadership Education And Development. It is a nine-month program that the Independence Chamber of Commerce started over 35 years ago.

Participating in the program was one of the first things I did when arriving in Independence. It helped me to not only connect with various community leaders, but it also equipped me to become a better leader and a more successful professional.

While LEAD is probably my favorite thing the Chamber does, education is by no means the only value we receive from our Chamber membership. Promoting economic development, lobbying for public policies beneficial to its members, and strengthening the community through events like Santa-Cali-Gon are just some of the ways our business has been helped by the Chamber.

During times of economic difficulty, like the ones many businesses face right now, the Chamber can be an even more valuable partner. As a small business we don’t have the size and clout larger corporations have. But, as they say there is strength in numbers and with over 600 member businesses, the Independence Chamber helps us leverage that size to our advantage as well.

Much like individuals need friends and family around them to provide support and encouragement, business leaders need this same support at a professional level too. I sympathize with any entrepreneur who started their business in early 2020. They have encountered more than their fair share of obstacles already. From lockdowns, to supply chains problems, to rising costs it seems like there is constantly a new challenge small businesses are having to face. Now with the potential slow down of our economy seeming to be more of a possibility, small businesses need help more than ever. Chambers of Commerce are built to be that support structure.

I would guess that is why so many new members have joined the Independence Chamber recently. According to Trina Anderson, Director of Membership for the Independence Chamber of Commerce Since the first of the year alone, the Independence Chamber added 111 new members. They have also added almost 400 since the beginning of the pandemic. I would guess other Chambers in the area have had similar experiences.

While its certainly true that technology has changed the way in which local community organization’s function, it is certainly not true that have been made obsolete by social media and the internet. Business is still done through relationships. The CoC provides that direct path to developing mutually beneficial relationships as well as anything I have ever experienced.

If you are a business owner looking for help, or maybe even someone who just loves their community and wants to see it thrive, consider getting involved with your Chamber of Commerce. As Helen Keller once said “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much”