Upcoming summit to address business talent needs

talent-summit

The first of seven events in our Summit Up! Series, the Talent Summit will address how to develop, attract, and retain talent within our state, community, and your organization.

In order to help bring our community up to speed on what’s happening in our region and what they can do to grow their own talent, we’re excited to share the Talent Summit.

Learn more about the breakout sessions and register for the Talent Summit!

Speakers to highlight the importance of talent development at all levels

Our opening speaker is Roger Curtis, Director of the Department of Talent and Economic Development for the State of Michigan. We are proud to have panels of local talent experts, bringing you true examples of talent development from their organizations and strategic plans to implement within your own.

We will also welcome Dr. Irving McPhail, President and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), as our national keynote speaker.

Dr. Irving McPhail and the innovative team at NACME recognized a gap in minority talent in STEM industries. It’s their mission to create and foster opportunities for African American, American Indian, and Latino young women and men in STEM careers. They do so by creating talent pipelines for possible candidates.

Though there are different entry points into these pipelines, NACME begins attracting candidates at a high school level. Through scholarship programs and career centers, young minority students are sponsored throughout their education in STEM fields. Upon completion of their education, students are referred to partners within the industry to help place students in open positions within their communities.

NACME believes diversity drives innovation and that our engineering workforce that looks like America. We couldn’t agree more and are honored to have the opportunity to hear Dr. Irving McPhail give the keynote address at the Talent Summit.

Grand Rapids Parking Conversation

Is Parking Cash Out Right For Your Business?
Upcoming April 19 Downtown Commuter Benefits Workshop

To further the understanding of the urgent need to address challenges related to monthly parking permits for businesses downtown, we’ve partnered with the City of Grand Rapids and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to offer a FREE informational workshop on Parking Cash Out.

Parking Cash Out programs offer funds to employees in place of monthly parking permits. The employee is free to use these funds as they deem fit for their needs. This workshop will help businesses determine if the Parking Cash Out concept is right for their organization and provide plans on how to structure the program.

We are committed to ensuring parking and mobility is not a barrier to business and job growth in Grand Rapids. Employer-driven programs like Parking Cash Out can help make more efficient use of our existing public parking assets and offer interested employers greater flexibility in managing their growth.

When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Where: Start Garden, 40 Pearl Street NW, Suite 200, Downtown Grand Rapids
Who Should Attend: Employers and human resource professionals in Downtown Grand Rapids who lease parking spaces and provide free of subsidized parking for their employees.
Register Now: Seating is limited. Simply send an email to rsvp@downtowngr.org to reserve your spot.

Chamber Provides City of Grand Rapids Entities with Parking Recommendations
Update from March 27

This week, Josh Lunger, Director of Government Affairs with the Grand Rapids Chamber, sent parking recommendations to the Mayor, City Commission, and key City staff. The Chamber supports an “all of the above” approach to mobility to ensure that monthly parking accessibility to downtown is never a significant obstacle to business and job growth.

See our parking recommendations.


The Parking Conversation Continues
Update from March 9 GR Parking Commission Meeting

We hear you. Last month’s parking open forum garnered a standing room only crowd and encouraged lively discussion regarding the parking concerns in downtown Grand Rapids. On the morning of March 9, Josh Lunger, Director of Government Affairs with the Grand Rapids Chamber, went in front of the Grand Rapids Parking Commission to continue the conversation.

While event and visitor parking remains readily accessible, the continued growth has created new pressures on the availability of monthly parking permits downtown. This is a good problem to have. It signifies that more people are visiting, working, and living downtown. But we also know that parking and mobility should not be a barrier to business growth.

Lunger urged the Parking Commission to recognize the urgency on the parking problem. The commission noted the addition of a 293 space surface lot on Ionia Ave. between McConnell St. and Logan St. across from the Downtown Market and 500 other mixed use parking solutions that may become available in the coming months. These spaces may help to alleviate some of the current parking pain.

Lunger reminded the Parking Commission to keep the Chamber as a resource and include us in the conversation. The Chamber can drive education, engagement, and communication surrounding the parking conversation with our members and business owners in Grand Rapids. We will continue to explore the conversation with business owners and give them voice at future meetings.


Parking is one of the top issues our members face
Updates from February 8th Parking Open Forum

The continued growth and vibrancy of Grand Rapids is creating increased parking pressures in the urban core, particularly for employee parking. At a standing-room-only parking meeting, members were able to engage with city staff and the Chamber about downtown parking, including the impact it has on business growth opportunities.

“I’m glad that we’re having this conversation [about parking], because it means we have a vibrant and growing downtown and city,” said Josh Lunger, Director of Government Affairs with the Grand Rapids Chamber.

Read more: Parking in Grand Rapids at 95% capacity

The Chamber is your advocate, and we look forward to working with you and other stakeholders, including City of Grand Rapids and DGRI, to advance solutions.

Send us your feedback and taking the parking survey!

Josh Lunger also joined Michael Patrick Shiels on Michigan’s Big Show on Tuesday morning. In preparation for the parking meeting, he talked about parking in Grand Rapids and what it means for downtown businesses and Chamber members.

Fierce Advocacy: A Journey with Shelley Irwin

ATHENA Shelley Fierce Advocacy

Take the journey of personal advocacy with Shelley Irwin, 2016 ATHENA Award recipient and host/producer of The WGVU Morning Show who spoke at the January ATHENA Leadership Forum.


IT keeps you up at night. IT drives you to action. IT just may be the spark that lights your fire. IT… is one of the 8 ATHENA tenets. May I discuss the tenet …of FIERCE ADVOCACY.

What an honor it was to receive the 2016 ATHENA Award on behalf of our Greater Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. It is my obligation to uphold and put to work the daily practice of ALL the ATHENA tenets, including Celebration and Joy, Giving Back, Collaboration, Learning, Relationships, Courageous Acts, Authentic Self AND this idea of FIERCE ADVOCACY.

FIERCE ADVOCACY: Supporting and acting on your passion for people, causes or ideas, creating an unstoppable force for the greater good.

Take the journey of personal advocacy with Shelley Irwin, 2016 ATHENA Award recipient and host/producer at WGVU Radio.

Just Do It.

I’m an “advocate” for taking advantage of opportunities presented. When asked to co-chair a committee, say yes! Twice this happened to me. Twice I said yes. I’m waiting for third times the charm!

When you serve in this community, you witness like minds coming together for a similar cause. And you become friends.

One of my first committees I worked with mentors I call dear friends to this day. When asked to join the GR Lions Club, I hit the ground running, not only making history as the first female president in 89 years (glad you got your act together, gentleman!), but was able to witness how dollars FUNDRAISED went right back into the community to help those with visual impairment!

Lives are touched by those who unite in passion. Take advantage of an invite. It’s a compliment that someone believes in you. Just do IT!

Stick To Your Commit

What’s your level of Commitment? When I commit, I’ll be at the meeting and play the role I can best bring to the table. Commit to take on a new project, to meet with a new mentee, to beginning a new exercise program, but take it seriously. Commitment takes time, talents and treasures.

Commitment will keep you focused plus is necessary for the group’s puzzle to come together … if you are the missing puzzle piece, the picture won’t be complete … if you are the loose spoke … the wheel will wobble. How about a commitment to yourself?

In September, I committed to finishing a race of a lifetime. The World Championships Long Distance Duathlon included somehow surviving Switzerland Mountains, that’s straight up and straight down on my “red devil”, followed by and preceded by hill running, 12 hours allotted to do this task. Two things consistent on my mind … “you must finish, and you mustn’t crash. You have a September 15th ATHENA celebration that would not be pretty in a body cast!” I stuck to the commitment, made the deadline with thirty minutes to spare. You CAN and MUST commit.

Your teammates, committee mates, your FAMILY deserves your commitment. Pair that commitment with your advocacy. That will get you to your seat before the meeting is called to order.

Be Well

Be a fierce advocate for wellness. If you don’t create a healthy foundation from which to build, how can you leap into the many projects and life goals you have in store? I take on the 80/20 rule. I focus 80% of my lifestyle on healthy choices in mind, body, and spirit yet I sure look forward to the 20% of a free day! Dare we use the moderation rule? Life comes at us full speed ahead. Good things happen, bad things happen. Armoring ourselves with the best defense TO life just may include a “health” plan. Yes, for me, a goal to run, skip or jump high.

We are what we eat. You “feel” what you eat. Mind you, I’m not a fan of diet cheese, but am a fan of making choices, some rigid and some due to celebration! Be a role model for your loved ones. Set the bar high for yourself and those who aspire to be YOU! Carrots DO help the eyes, an apple a day COULD keep the doctor away. Just sayin’!

Take the time to move. Your body craves this action more than you know. Today, park a little further away and take a set of stairs. It’s my advocacy to see us all reap the benefits of taking care of our personal machines.

Find Your Passion

One of my favorite advocacies is doing what you love, vocationally and/or avocationally. Change your career if you’re not happy, mentor young men and ladies to prepare the next gen, or find forever homes for every four legged critter in the world. Therein lies my mighty mission.

I made a major career change in my late thirties to follow my vocational passion. Practicing Physical Therapy for fifteen years was rewarding and a necessary service, but today, I have the honor of serving a broader reach through messaging, sharing stories of health and more through following my passion and making a purposeful change. Blood, Sweat, Tears and JOY!

I look to serve as best I can to role model FOR our future. You bet I’ll advocate for Young women to find their voice, to serve at the table, to follow their dreams. Multiple local organizations are waiting for those who advocate for future development of young leaders. If not you, who?

And … if only I could adopt one more Jack Russell! It’s no secret there is an overpopulation of pets needing homes. To serve in the arena of animal rescue is one of my callings, but I can’t take them all home. Or can I? Advocate for those who don’t have a voice.

These advocacies keep me up at night, drive me to action, and are the sparks that light my fire. Find yours and start acting. Begin…yesterday.

GR Chamber and Metro Chambers head to Washington D.C.

Members of the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition took part in a fly-in this week focused on infrastructure, immigration, energy, trade including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other issues impacting businesses and communities across the Midwest and Great Lakes.

Fifty-four meetings took place on Capitol Hill with legislators and committee staff as part of the annual event and included information on policy specifics and critical infrastructure projects for the region. Our collective voice is stronger together and as a region, the Great Lakes has a combined GDP of more than $5.7 trillion, making it the third largest economy in the world.

Specifically, Andy Johnston and Josh Lunger spoke with federal lawmakers on:

  • Transportation infrastructure including funding for a new Soo Lock, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, I-96 reconstruction and enhancement, and interchange improvements to serve business demand in Walker.

  • Immigration for highly skilled labor through the H1B visa program.

  • Support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GRLI) including maintaining the current funding level of $300 million.

Other issues on the Chamber’s radar with federal lawmakers in Washington this week include tax reform, education policy and the changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Special thanks to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Congressmen Bill Huizenga, Fred Upton, Mike Bishop, Paul Mitchell, Jack Bergman and Tim Walberg for meeting in person with the Chamber.

Talent Wanted: What everyone is saying, and what your Chamber is doing about it

Talent Wanted: What the Chamber is doing to help its members' talent needsFor the first time in recent history, members reported difficulty finding qualified talent as their top concern, surpassing the cost of health care which had been the top issue for the past four years. Seventy-two percent reported difficulty finding qualified applicants, up from 51% in 2014. Digging a little deeper, the availability of skilled labor and general talent retention were noted as two of the top obstacles to business growth.

Talent is not a new initiative for the Chamber, but there is added urgency to addressing our region’s immediate talent shortages while also ensuring we have a qualified workforce for the future. In the survey, members identified the most difficult positions to fill, highlighting positions from skilled trades, to STEM careers, to positions that require advanced degrees.

The Chamber’s advocacy efforts are linked directly to what we are hearing from our members – fighting for programs and initiatives at the State level to address our immediate and future talent needs.

Short-term Initiative

  • Skilled Trades Training Program (Going Pro): The Chamber is advocating for a significant increase of funding for this program which provides grants to employers to upskill their current workforce or new hires. The Chamber is pleased to see Governor Snyder’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget recommendation included a $10 million increase, and will be asking the Legislature to confirm this recommendation. These grant dollars may be used in a variety of fields, including professional trades, information technology, health care and other high-demand jobs.
  • Career and Technical Education Equipment Upgrades: To address talent development, the Chamber is also supportive of Governor Snyder’s recommendation of $20 million to support (CTE) Career Technology Education program equipment upgrades.

Mid-term Initiatives

  • 21st Century Skills/High School Graduation Flexibility: The Chamber has been working alongside the West Michigan Talent Triangle for the passage of House Bill 4114, which seeks to provide high schoolers greater flexibility in the courses they must take to graduate. This bill would allow students the flexibility to take rigorous courses in computer science, coding, CTE, foreign language or the arts.
  • Michigan State Standards: There have been some recent efforts to repeal Michigan’s State Standards, but the Chamber is fiercely advocating alongside our community education partners for their continuation. These standards set the foundation of what Michigan’s student should know at each grade level, and are a critical component to ensure our students can graduate college and career ready.

Long-term Initiative

  • Early Childhood Education: The Chamber is a vocal supporter of Michigan’s funding for early childhood education and is asking the Legislature to continue the funding to ensure Michigan is a no-wait state and our children can start their education with high quality programming.

Every year, the Chamber conducts an annual survey of members to better understand the issues you’re facing. Nearly 600 members responded to the survey this year with more than two-thirds of the responses from small and medium-sized businesses.

More than 93% of Chamber members reported a favorable or very favorable perception of West Michigan’s business climate. Our community and region has seen great growth coming out of the recession, but we are not without some challenges.

Want to read the Chamber membership survey results? Please visit grandrapids.org/government-affairs-survey


Questions, comments or ideas of how to address talent needs? Please contact Joshua Lunger at or 616.771.0336.

First Breakfast with Legislators – find out what you missed!

The Chamber held its first Breakfast with Legislators of 2017 on February 27. It has become a tradition to kickoff of the series at The Rapid and we are grateful for their continued sponsorship of the February breakfast.

These events are an important opportunity to engage lawmakers with the business community and there was a lot to discuss – including the previous week’s effort by the State House to roll back the income tax.

INCOME TAX
The hot topic of the meeting was the failed voted on an income tax reduction from 4.25% to 3.9% pushed for in the State House by Speaker Tom Leonard. House lawmakers in attendance voted both for and against the measure which was voted down 52-55.

March_BWL_RoomWhile some may have expected fireworks, lawmakers on both sides were not that far apart. Case in point: Representative Rob VerHeulen and Representative Chris Afendoulis.

VerHeulen voted for the measure after working to lessen the impact on the budget.

“I had concerns with the original bill. I think taking it to zero without a plan to replace it would jeopardize our ability to provide essential state services,” said VerHeulen, R-Walker. “But I support it going to 3.9%. This will ensure that we will not jeopardize our constitutional mandate to balance the budget. I’ve always been motivated to stretch on behalf of the taxpayers.”

Representative Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township, opposed the measure but indicated how close he was to those that voted for it. He shared VerHeulen’s concern about the impact the cut would have on the ability of the state to fund critical priorities like roads, talent investment and pay down long-term debt saying.

“This plan will jeopardize our state’s bond rating and will create a structural deficit in the general fund of over $2 billion by 2022,” he said.

Other House members at the breakfast weighed in including Representatives Tommy Brann, Holly Hughes, and Steve Johnson. Ultimately, the accelerated process, coupled with not simultaneously putting forth what programs would be cut to keep the budget balanced led to the bill’s defeat.

The aftermath of the vote will likely shade policy-making in Lansing over the short term while the House works to continue to move Michigan forward.

STATE BUDGET
March_BWL_PanelA question was posed to State Senators Peter MacGregor and Tonya Schuitmaker on the impact President Trump’s budget priorities would have on the State’s budget.

The Senators pointed out that they can’t build a budget on what may happen and will continue to work to have a budget passed by June 1. That being said, they anticipate having to come back later in the year if the federal government moves to block or grant Medicaid to the states or requires state matching dollars for infrastructure projects.

MISCELLANEOUS
Discussion also focused on: the Gordie Howe International Bridge (going forward), the Soo Locks (which needs the federal government to step up with dollars and Chamber staff is headed to DC to lobby for it), a possible sales tax on services (not going anywhere), and redistricting and election law changes.

CONGESTION & PARKING
It was also mentioned at the breakfast that Grand Rapids has made the list (89) of top 100 US cities for congestion and the cost. A few years ago, some supposed that the drop-off in vehicles miles traveled was a sign of younger people opting for multiple modes. We now know it was tightly tied to the economic downturn.

People are driving more than ever. Witness the I-96/I-196 lane merge any morning or evening.

March_BWL_AudienceThere is a need for an all-of-the-above solution to mobility – strong public transportation like The Rapid; transportation network companies (ex. Uber and Lyft); reliable transit and rail, forward thinking and preparation for connected and automated vehicles; and an understanding that most of us will choose our personal vehicle for many years to come.

That being said, downtown parking has been highlighted as a hindrance to member growth and the Chamber is working on a set of short- and long-term recommendations with the City of Grand Rapids to advance solutions.

GIVE IT A TRY
Our relentless, member-driven advocacy supports businesses of all sizes and types. If you have never been to one of these breakfasts, give it a try! Hear from those that represent you and make your voice heard. And if you have thoughts on these topics or others, let us know!

Questions? Contact Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs at 616.771.0335 or johnstona@grandrapids.org.

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Member Benefit Pays Out Dividend

Participating chamber members receive checks for successful Accident Fund workers’ compensation group performance

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that several members have earned over $681,176 in dividends through the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America workers’ compensation group program. Congratulations to our chamber members who participate in the program!

Since the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is a designated group, our members receive 5 percent up-front savings on Accident Fund workers’ compensation insurance rates. Plus, when the group performs well, participating chamber members are eligible for dividends.


Did you know? If your workers’ compensation yearly premium is more than $10,000, your Chamber membership dues could pay for themselves in group program discounts. Learn more about the Accident Fund Workers’ Compensation Program and other membership perks here!


In January 2017, our chamber’s group program was reviewed and it was determined that we earned a 15 percent dividend for members that participated in the October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 program. The $681,176 in dividends is being paid to nearly 200 participants. The group will be reviewed again this same time next year for another possible dividend distribution.  In 2016 Accident Fund Insurance Company of America paid over $4.5 million dollars to participating groups members.

“Encouraging safety in the workplace while offering a Chamber-only plan that can provide real money back is definitely a win-win situation,” said Mark Allen, Director of Member Relations for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

“The Accident Fund Workers’ Compensation Program is one of many innovative strategies we have put in place to help our members more effectively control their costs. I want to thank and congratulate all of the program participants. Their commitment to safety is what made this dividend possible.”

Darryl Mulder of Buiten & Associates says, “The partnership between the GR Chamber, Accident Fund and our agency has been instrumental in rewarding many Buiten clients with substantive dividend checks. We appreciate our client’s commitment to safety in the workplace which helps drive the success of the Accident Fund/Chamber’s dividend program. Delivering a dividend check is a rewarding experience for Buiten associates as well as for our clients, reflecting positively on their superior Workers Compensation loss experience.” Buiten Associates continues to be the Chamber’s leading Accident Fund agency and has been for several years.


Accident Fund Insurance Company of America.

Accident Fund Insurance Company of America is a member of AF Group. All policies are underwritten by a licensed insurer subsidiary of AF Group.

To join the Accident Fund groups program through the Chamber, contact the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for an Accident Fund Insurance Company of America agent in your area, or find an agent at www.accidentfund.com/groups.

Please note:  You must be a member in good standing to participate in this program.

Governor’s Budget Focuses on Talent & Infrastructure

Today, Governor Rick Snyder presented his 2017-18 Fiscal Year budget recommendation, highlighting initiatives to support Michigan’s talent and infrastructure needs.

“Talent is the top issue for the West Michigan business community and we are excited to see that priority reflected throughout the Governor’s budget,” said Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs.

“Michigan’s economy continues to gain momentum, but we must address the challenge companies have finding talent with the skills they need.”

“Most notably, we are thrilled the Governor recommends a $10 million increase to the Going Pro program, also known as the Skilled Trades Training Fund. This market-driven program has helped ensure Michigan employers have the talent they need to compete and grow, and individuals have the skills for in-demand jobs.”

Read more: Grand Rapids Chamber gets wish list in Governor Snyder’s budget

“The talent issue requires short-term and long-term solutions, which is why we are also pleased to see the Governor recommend $20 million for schools, intermediate school districts and community colleges to purchase career technology education (CTE) equipment.”

“We look forward to working with the Senate and House to continue the talent discussion and adoption of these two key funds that will allow our residents the opportunities to succeed in the workforce.”

As part his budget presentation, the Governor also emphasized the importance of ensuring a strong infrastructure, highlighting the investment in roads and calling for $20 million to take the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission report forward.

“Proper investment in infrastructure is crucial to Michigan’s economic growth and remains one of the Chamber’s top public policy issues,” continued Johnston. “This is critical to the economic vitality of our region and state. From well-maintained roads to strong sewer and drinking water systems, we must ensure we have the infrastructure available to support our communities and businesses.”

A member’s perspective of the Diversity & Inclusion Forum

charissa-huangAttorney Charissa Huang looked around the packed house at the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Forum on November 18 and felt “a sense of relief.

As the Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, Huang often feels isolated. That is not true within her firm, which actually includes Diversity & Inclusion in its organizational charter and by-laws.

Instead, Huang said, “it is not every day you get to hang out with other D&I people.”

“Diversity and Inclusion is a struggle for all organizations trying to hire diverse talent. But at the Forum, I saw that everyone is in this together. A lot of people there were interested and engaged and trying to make the workplace and the community more inclusive.”

The Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Forum brought together three national experts with presentations designed to encourage learning and discussion on ideas, plans and methods to promoted inclusion in the workplace.

Keynote speaker Mary-Frances Winters said, “Inclusion is about the opportunity to participate, to come to a place and feel appreciated for who you are. It should be something that is integrated into your every day.”

To be more inclusive, she explained, we need to understand ourselves first, become more self-aware. “All of us come from our own values systems and beliefs, and so do the other people whom we meet. We need to realize that, and work to break down barriers to find mutual understanding.”

Dr. Alan Richter’s breakout session, “Heads, Hearts and Hands” presented a systemic approach to understanding the cognitive, emotional and behavioral needs of people with whom we interact.

Marguerite Fletcher conducted a breakout session entitled “Diversity & Inclusion Strategies for Leaders.” She advised participants to challenge their assumptions about people who are different, conduct anonymous surveys of employee experiences with D&I and
broaden the group of people with whom we socialize at work, and network outside our organization.

Charissa Huang found especially eye-opening a breakout session she attended that challenged participants to “become” a hypothetical person from a different race or culture.

“It was interesting that people were more comfortable selecting their own race or culture and its challenges with which they were familiar.”

The learning opportunities came in discussing how personal perceptions and potential bias surfaced when people selected “identities” outside their own race or culture.


To continue your own education and growth, join the critical conversation in one of the Institute for Healing Racism: Facing Racism programs in 2017.

Find Your Place with Chamber Affinity Groups

The secret is out. Grand Rapids is a city on the rise and you live here!

Grdowntown_web-size

Get tapped into the local scene with fresh connections through the Chamber. We’re here to help foster the relationships and create the spaces so you can dig deep roots into the community. Here are a few options—for you, your new hires, and your long-time talent!


Inside Grand Rapids

Get a behind-the-scenes look into Grand Rapids and what drives us as a magnetic, top-of-mind region. We’ll be diving into the city’s history, growth of downtown, and arts and entertainment culture on May 24, 2016. Offered every quarter or so. Join the tour at grandrapids.org/insidegrand-rapids.

“I couldn’t believe how many things I learned about the city even after growing up here. It’s certainly something that anyone new or wanting to learn more about the community should do!” — Mike Kerkorian, Heart of West Michigan United Way


Black Women Connect GR

After one year of gathering, this affinity group of professional black women has created a lively and engaged community—in person and online. Follow the discussion with over 1,220 women in the Facebook group or meet up at an event. On June 20, 2016 we’re throwing a garden party to celebrate our first anniversary! RSVP or connect via grandrapids.org/blackwomenconnectgr.


OutPro

Created just for LGBT professionals and allies, OutPro continues to grow as an outstanding experience. Monthly events and diverse Facebook discussions create dynamic opportunities for both social and professional networking in a fun environment. With two stellar events coming up—a comedic brunch with David Sedaris May 15, 2016 and a Broadway Grand Rapids show (Book of Mormon) on June 23, 2016—there’s no better time than now to go out with OutPro! Sign up at grandrapids.org/outpro.


This article first appeared in the May 2016 edition of The Chamber News, written by AliciaMarie Belchak, Senior Communications Specialist at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Visit www.grandrapids.org/business-advice to find more thought leadership like this.