Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Time flies when you are having fun

There is an old saying that “Time flies when you are having fun.” For me, the last six months have been a virtual whirlwind of activity as I have settled into my new position as President of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber.

On one hand, it seems like only yesterday that I turned in my Chamber volunteer hat as a member of the Board of Directors to accept the staff position. On the other, it is hard to believe the Chamber has crammed so many programs, events and work into the six-month window.

Having served as a Director for several years prior to my appointment as President, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the organization’s operations and the amount of activity generated by the small but mighty staff.Boy, was I wrong.

I continue to be impressed – and amazed – at how passionate the staff and our team of dedicated Chamber volunteers are when it comes to working on behalf of our member businesses. I am honored to be counted among this group of consummate professionals, and am very excited about the great things that lie ahead for the Chamber and our members in 2011 and beyond.

The past few years have been unusually tough on our member businesses, and the communities they serve. Shrinking sales, loss of income and plunging home values have taken their toll on all of us. Sadly, we’ve said goodbye to quite a few member businesses who simply could not survive the economic recession and were forced to close up shop.

But in spite of these tough time, or perhaps as a result of them, something quite remarkable also is taking place in our communities: Dozens of driven, committed and focused business professionals have left their traditional careers to pursue the dream of being their own boss, and trying to make a living at something they truly are passionate about. This new group of entrepreneurs have opened all kinds of business in our communities and are pumping a new level of excitement into our business districts.

It seems like a week didn’t go by in the past year without the Chamber conducting a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new business opening their doors in defiance of the tough economy. And as our state slowly rights itself among a glimmer of optimism that things are starting to get better, it will be these new businesses that will drive our local economic recovery.

There no doubt will be many new challenges for all of us in 2011. But I believe the Chamber, our members, and our communities are poised for a terrific year, provided we all work together and continue to support one another.

Joe Bauman is President of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at joeb@bbcc.com

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