Monday, November 22, 2010

Exciting events close out a whirlwind year

As I write this column, I am looking at my wall calendar in disbelief that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the holiday shopping season appears to be in full swing. Each passing year seems to go by quicker, but that is especially so this year.

For the Chamber, 2010 has been a whirlwind. Looking back, it really is quite remarkable the organization has been able to absorb so much change while still delivering top-notch service and programs to our members. We've moved our office, moved the location of the Village Fair, broken in a new chief executive (yours truly), restructured the leadership of the Board of Directors, and are on the verge of converting to a new information database and accounting system.

All of this would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication and determination of the Chamber staff, our unbelievable volunteers and committee members, and our Board of Directors. I owe each a huge debt of gratitude and am so thankful for the support the Chamber receives throughout the year. With their help, and with the improvements we have made mostly in place, 2011 is poised to be a very exciting and rewarding year indeed for our membership and the organization.

As 2010 winds down, so does the Chamber's calendar of programs and events. But there still are a couple of opportunities to learn more about the Chamber and the year that was, reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and gather to share in the blessings of what the future holds.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the Chamber will hold its annual meeting beginning at 8 a.m. at The Community House in downtown Birmingham. The meeting serves as a report of the year to the general membership and community at large; the new Board of Directors is announced; and both the Business Person of the Year and First Citizen are recognized.
Prior to the meeting, a great networking opportunity takes place over breakfast.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Chamber Board of Directors and staff will host the annual holiday mixer, scheduled from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Birmingham Athletic Club. It is a great event to celebrate the season and the promise 2011 holds. Details and registration information is available at

I look forward to seeing old friends, new friends and future friends alike at both events. Come and join the fun.Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The growing need

For the past few weeks, we have been running a solicitation for people to nominate First Citizen candidates.

Each year, the Birmingham Eccentric, in conjunction with the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber, selects the First Citizen based on that person's volunteer services to the local community. Nominations have been coming in, and we expect more to arrive by Friday's deadline.

Indeed, there should be no shortage of nominations. Volunteering has been a hallmark of the people of this area for a long time. And these days, the need for volunteering and charitable work is greater than ever.

We can expect to see more of a demand. Michigan may be on the road to economic recovery, but it certainly is a rocky one. And if Gov.-elect Rick Snyder lives up to his promises of tackling Michigan's problems in a bold manner, you can expect to see some substantial changes in the whole fabric of this state.

They are needed, but they will be painful. Some likely changes, such as revisions to the corrections budget, won't have an immediate impact on the local level. But how social services will be affected remains to be determined

It is highly likely, however, that people in need will be turning more to non-government agencies for help. They already do that to a large extent, but the demands are sure to grow. Beyond that, organizations of all sorts — including those within the scope of the Birmingham-Bloomfield area — that depend on contributions for their operations are going to need more help. Grants are drying up, corporations are dropping their sponsorships and individuals are finding they have less to donate to whatever the cause is.

Those in a position to help are going to be tapped like never before as everyone scrambles to find the available sources of funding. Few are in a position to help everyone, but those who can help the worthwhile causes are encouraged to do so. Consider this as a family crisis. A great big family crisis. Help those that you can. No one expects anyone to bankrupt themselves trying to aid others, but if you can support the needy or the organizations that contribute to the quality of life to the community, do so.

We can all be First Citizens.
To nominate a First Citizen e-mail
To nominate a Business Person of the Year e-mail

Monday, November 8, 2010

Honor First Citizen, leading businessperson

I have been blessed throughout my professional career to have jobs that allowed me to meet dozens of truly extraordinary people who call the greater Birmingham-Bloomfield community home. I truly believe it is the people that populate the “Five Bs” and Franklin that make the communities the special places they are.

Sure, this area is home to professional athletes, actors, performers and corporate titans, and their presence does lend an air of extra excitement to the area. And when you throw in the Townsend Hotel and its star-studded guest list, spotting an “A list” celebrity is a pretty common occurrence.

For me, the real “A listers” in our communities are the dedicated men, women, and even children, who donate time, talent and treasure to improve the quality of life in their hometowns. Most often, they do so without seeking recognition for their efforts and even when recognized, downplay their contributions.

It is important to recognize these folks not only for their contributions, but to encourage others to follow in their paths. More than 30 years ago, this newspaper created the First Citizen Award to honor a local resident for their volunteer efforts. That award was later joined by the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber's Business Person of the Year Award, which recognizes a local business leader for their efforts in supporting the community at large.

Both the Eccentric and Chamber are currently seeking nominations for the 2010 awards. If you have a friend or neighbor or loved one that goes out of their way to give back to the community, either by serving on a nonprofit board or volunteering time to a local charity, then please take the time to nominate that person for the First Citizen Award.

Likewise, if you know of a local business person who is active in the community either as a company sponsor or volunteer, then please take the time to nominate that person for the Business Person of the Year Award. Nominating forms for Business Person of the Year are available on the Chamber Web site at

Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at