Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 19, 2013

Chamber View: Multiple opportunities for learning

BY LAURA OBLINGER
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — The people who make up our local business community often wear many hats – boss, line worker, ambassador, bookkeeper, mentor … the list goes on.

These folks also take on important responsibilities outside the workplace — as a parent, family member, caregiver, friend, volunteer, in community service roles and more.

Balancing all of those obligations is a challenge. It can leave little time for continuing professional development, critical to help a business grow and reach its full potential. That’s why the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce creates continuing education opportunities to help our businesspeople expand their knowledge and capabilities, while also meeting their many responsibilities in the community.

The latest effort is a new nine-month program created in conjunction with Ferris State University known as the Chamber’s Mini-MBA program. It’s a management and executive development initiative for members that is designed to enhance an individual’s business skills in a compact format offered close to home. It allows them to expand their knowledge and increase their business acumen, but not at the expense of their companies, families and other commitments.

There are other learning opportunities as well. One of the most-enduring is the Chamber’s Leadership Grand Traverse program, where businesspeople learn about the region’s community institutions, service organizations, natural resources and more. It helps them learn what makes our area tick and how they can make a difference in the community.

There are also recurring programs like the Entrepreneur Series offering free small-group learning sessions. There’s a Mentoring program where experienced business people offer their knowledge and experiences to younger professionals.

The CEO Roundtable brings together some of the top business minds in the region to share their expertise with others. The Mark of Excellence program allows companies to submit information online and have it confidentially reviewed by a team of SCORE counselors who offer recommendations on improving operations.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” The Chamber’s goal is to involve businesspeople in a continuum of educational and leadership development opportunities to help everyone from up-and-coming young professionals to mid-level managers to top-end executives.

Making that happen means leveraging the community’s assets including Northwestern Michigan College and its University Center partners, the regional Council of Governments and other existing resources. It means creating streamlined, relevant and impactful programs sensitive to the many commitments of local business people.

As the region continues to rebound from one of the largest economic downturns in recent memory, it’s more important than ever to assist our business community in gaining the knowledge and power needed to keep our economy growing. After all, we’re never too old — nor too busy — to learn.

Laura Oblinger is Chief Operating Officer at the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact her by email at laura@tcchamber.org