Cities, organizations work together like a table

From the President’s Desk
Jackie Lovejoy
President, Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce

Quote of the month that has inspired me:
That’s the nice thing about collaborating with someone: Your work becomes a conversation.
— Noah Baumbach

Some of my colleagues, old and new, have asked me recently, “Why do you do all this stuff?” when I mention our involvement in other organizations, boards, city activities, chambers, charities and civic groups. I’ve always heard “it takes two to row the boat” whether it’s in a marriage, a business or any relationship. This month’s, let’s explore how being involved helps everyone.

In my role, I see the Chamber as a leg of a table; the table top is our Dearborn and Dearborn Heights businesses and neighborhoods. The legs of that table, are our school systems, the Chamber, the Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter, the colleges and universities, both city offices, the west and east Dearborn downtown development associations and our myriad service clubs and charities.

When we support each other at events like Mutt-Strut, Rotary or Kiwanis scholarship programs, Homecoming, or the mayor’s One Dearborn golf outing, we are making a decision to support the community at large. I don’t have children in Dearborn Public Schools, but I serve on the Education Foundation because I know how important a skilled workforce is, whether or not students are college bound. I know that a sound K-12 education makes for a sound future employee, thus strengthening our businesses.

To have the FFDAS pick up strays and provide the wonderful services it does, we provide safe neighborhoods and compassionate care for our animal friends. This makes our area an attractive one in which to live and do business.

When one leg of the table is weak, the others can pitch in, or “row the boat.” Bringing supplies to the shelter or books to a book drive equal the same result: Collaborating means we get to think out loud and help each other grow, and better the strength of the whole table!

When a new member joins the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, right off the bat we discuss the 15 free networking events we have each year. Some ask why they should attend these events, or what should they choose first. I always say the Chamber is like a buffet, some days you have a salad, some days surf and turf, and some days, it is only dessert. If you avoid the buffet though, you might go hungry for contacts. Try out the buffet (Chamber) and see what appeals to you as a business owner.

Many successful folks have been quoted as saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Showing up and helping row the boat for our members and for our communities is what we do to participate. After all, we’ve all hosted family dinners, and we all have a family member who never offers to bring anything or offer to host. After a while, we may stop inviting that individual.

On the other hand, if that person tries and shows up, offers to help or host, we offer to “row their boat” when they need extra help too. In the land of communities and chambers, golf outings are a great example of an event that may not interest you, though if you volunteer to register golfers at the outing, you may meet your next big client! Remember 80 percent of success is showing up, or being in the right place at the right time. Position yourself for exposure to future business partners and clients.

At the chamber we promote all of our activities which serve our five core values: Education, Community Promotion, Government Affairs, Travel & Tourism, and Member Development. Many of our activities support more than one core value. If we think about the recent Taste of Dearborn, it’s a great example of supporting many of our values. We brought 875 diners to 26 chamber eateries showcasing their wares in June (serving Member Development, and Community Promotion).

We added a new wine tasting event at Ford Field Park, showcasing our great park facilities to 163 new attendees of Taste (again Community Promotion, Travel and Tourism, and Government Affairs — the parks are owned by the city of Dearborn). If you saw our cooking demonstration with Chef Tim from The Henry on WJBK-TV Channel 2 before the Taste event, you might even say some education was thrown in the mix as well.

Another great example is our Young Entrepreneur’s Program. While serving 24 students in a Junior Achievement /“Shark Tank”/“Apprentice”-like program for 30 weeks, it also provides mentorship and networking for our chamber members, and exposure for our corporate partners who help make it possible. Besides launching new businesses, the mentors often ended up doing business together and sharing new contacts. There was a super 30 weeks of watching the values of Education, Member Development and Community Promotion come together in one great program!

The best networking question we teach our young entrepreneurs is, “Who’s your best customer, so when I bump into them, I can recommend them to you?” It’s not just about promoting your business, it’s promoting the business community that makes you a valued business as well. In turn, a good business climate brings in good neighbors.

Let’s all row the boat and get out there and support our communities and their partners this summer, while the summer is fine and the living is easy.