Monday, May 23, 2011

Nonprofits are the glue that holds our community together

In a recent interview, Gov. Rick Snyder suggested the nonprofit community could – and should – play a key role in providing some of the support services the state of Michigan can no longer afford to fund. I found his comments interesting not because I disagreed with him, rather it’s been my experience that local nonprofits and charitable organizations and their financial supporters have been doing exactly that in Southeast Michigan for as long as I can remember.

Oftentimes, the only thing preventing more from joining this army of volunteers and benefactors is either a lack of understanding of how to get involved, or an incorrect assumption that they have nothing to offer these groups. We all have varying amounts of time, talent and treasure to offer, and the many groups serving our communities are more than happy to accept any amount of any of the three.

To help get the word out about the many nonprofits and charitable organizations working tirelessly to improve our society, Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber is hosting our Community Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, June 22. The event includes a mini nonprofit expo, testimonials on the importance of the area business community tapping into these organizations, and a luncheon keynote speech by Huntington Bank’s Mike Fezzey, who has built a career around philanthropy and community involvement.

The luncheon, scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The Reserve, 325 S. Eton in Birmingham, should be a must attend for any person interested in connecting with an area nonprofit either as a volunteer or wanting to learn more about their services, as well as a company owner or manager looking for an opportunity to connect their employees to a charity or looking for volunteer opportunities.

For more details, visit the Chamber Web site at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Improved markets help secure a bright future for local communities

The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber concluded our Forecast Series program Thursday with a look at trends in the local and national residential and commercial real estate markets. The program, in my humble opinion, was chock-full of relevant and informative content presented by local experts Brian Henry of eTitle and Robert Pliska of Sperry Van Ness.

The overall theme of Pliska’s presentation was that the commercial real estate market hit rock bottom in 2009, and continues to slowly crawl its way back in terms of both vacancy rates and building and property values.

Henry’s crystal ball was less clear when discussing whether we have seen the worst in the home foreclosure rate and declines in residential property values. But he added there are signs that the residential market is stabilizing in the greater Birmingham-Bloomfield area a little ahead of the rest of Oakland County.

Henry’s report, backed by statistical data from Bloomfield Township, confirms another well-worn statement that when it comes to real estate, location is king. Folks want to live, work and play in desirous areas and the Birmingham-Bloomfield community is tops when it comes to quality of life.

This region’s success in many ways is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The residents take great pride in their communities and expect first-rate municipal services and amenities such as parks in return for their investment. The same goes for local schools, both private and public. Residents expect the best possible opportunities for their children, and are willing to pay for it.

Photo: Brian Henry,e-Title

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber is concluding our successful 2011 Forecast Series with the “Real Estate Forecast” presented by eTitle’s Brian Henry and Robert Pliska of the real estate firm Sperry Van Ness. The forecast breakfast is scheduled from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 12, at The Townsend Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

Our real estate forecast always is one of the most anticipated of the series, and this year’s offering will be no different. The Chamber has conducted a Real Estate forecast for years because of the critical role both the residential and commercial property rates play in a community’s overall health.

Because home foreclosures have been such a hot topic in the past two years, we have tapped an expert in this area to discuss both the business and legal aspects surrounding this timely issue. Brian Henry serves as Loan Resolution Counsel for Orlans Associates PC, working with homeowners, lenders and legislators on loan modification processes, short sales and other loss mitigation tools
Joining Henry on the panel is Robert Pliska, a longtime Chamber member and familiar face around town. Pliska serves as a managing director for Sperry Van Ness, specializing in the sale and financing of multifamily, retail, office and industrial properties in the Michigan market.

We at the Chamber are very happy to be able to provide critical information through the Real Estate Forecast that impacts such a large segment of our terrific communities. To register, visit the Chamber’s Web site at

Monday, May 2, 2011

The weather may be frightful, but bring on the Village Fair

Given the wonderful spring weather we continue to experience it is hard to believe the summer festival season is but a few weeks away. Here at the Chamber, we are gearing up for the 48th-annual Village Fair, scheduled for June 2-5 in beautiful downtown Birmingham.

One unique aspect of the Village Fair is the number of local charity and nonprofit groups that benefit from fair proceeds. In addition to being the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber’s major fundraiser, we have been able to share the wealth with nearly 20 local groups that rely on the fair for badly needed funds in these difficult economic times.

In 2010, the Chamber distributed more than $17,000 to 20 charitable organizations, thanks in large part to the generosity of Danny Houston and his Mid America Shows company. And even though rain during three days of the fair dampened profits along with the spirits of some fair-goers, we still are on target to partner with 18 organizations this year.

Discounted Village Fair wristbands are available for $15 until Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 5 p.m., a savings of $3 per wristband. Wristband vouchers can be purchased at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber office located at 725 S. Adams Rd. Suite 130 Birmingham, Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and at the Birmingham Bloomfield Credit Union located at 576 E. Lincoln, Birmingham Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Call the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber at (248) 644-1700 ext. 24 for more information, and we’ll plan to see you at the fair!