As the end of the year approaches, the Flint & Genesee Chamber is rounding out 2023 with more than 1,000 members – quite the milestone considering the impact that COVID-19 had on businesses.

“It’s taken some time, but our membership numbers are back to where they were prior to the pandemic,” said Andrew Younger, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Chamber, a division of the Flint & Genesee Group. “That speaks to the hard work of our staff, but more importantly, it’s a strong indicator of the optimism we’re seeing in the business community. There are a lot of good things happening in Flint & Genesee.”

To learn more about the latest trends and news coming out of the Chamber division, the AND editorial team recently sat down with Younger for a quick check-in.

You’ve welcomed many new members over the last year. What trends are you seeing among those who join?

One thing I’ve been especially excited to see is we have a lot of entrepreneurs who are opening businesses for the first time or are still in the first few years of opening. We’re honored that they’ve considered us a resource as they navigate that experience.

Do you think Chamber membership offers the same value to new businesses as it does to more long-standing operations?

Absolutely! For businesses that are very new and are still working on things like their business plan, we usually direct them first to the Small Business Help Desk at the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, which is another division of the Group.

But most anyone can benefit from being a Chamber member. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from first-time business owners who have really put some time into engaging with the Chamber and seen the results from that. For some, that means they’ve found a client or a contract opportunity. For others, it’s finding a mentor.

What advice do you have for new members, or new employees of existing members?

Chamber Executive Director, Andrew Younger, speaks to a member of the African American Advisory Committee inside King's Cigar Lounge

I recommend attending one of our Maximize Your Chamber Membership events. Not only do you learn about all the different ways your membership can work for you, but you also meet other new members who could potentially become buddies for future networking events. So when you walk into a luncheon for the first time, you won’t be walking into a room full of complete strangers.

Our committees are also a great place to get involved. From the African American Advisory Committee to Disability Works – which we’re working to re-energize right now – these committees offer a smaller, more intimate opportunity to get to know others who are dealing with the same kinds of things you are.

What’s next?

We’re always looking to improve how we do things and what we offer. That includes our website, which we plan to redesign and relaunch in 2024. We’re going to make it easier to navigate so members can find the resources they need.

And, as always, we’re going to continue to help our members expand their visibility and make meaningful connections, whether that’s through our online business directory or larger events.