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Positive connections are vital to growing our community, and the businesses within our beautiful county. For Manistee, it can be as easy as showing up to Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce programs and networking opportunities. 

As a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Leadership Program graduate, volunteer at the Annual Golf Outing, and regular attendee of Chamber UnTapped, I understand the value of building positive connections in the community. Investing just a few hours of the month to be present, I’ve come away with something new every time. For example, At the last Chamber Untapped held at Portage Point Inn and sponsored by Edwards Jones, I was able to meet several new Chamber investors that I wouldn’t have otherwise met.

Being a Chamber Ambassador is synonymous with being the bridge between the community and the many opportunities offered by the Chamber.  We are a group of Chamber business leaders, dedicated to volunteering their time to help support and promote the Chamber and everyone involved.  You can often find us at ribbons-cutting ceremonies to celebrate new Chamber investors, attending Chamber programs or networking programs, and out and about in the community! Being an ambassador has given me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and meet new people.  I’ve made business connections and learned so much more about what our vibrant community has to offer. 

One of the professional development programs offered by the Chamber is the Manistee Area Leadership Program. As a recent graduate of the 2021/2022 Leadership Program cohort, I was able to visit different places throughout the County. Many of which I had never visited or known about before, even as a lifelong resident of Manistee. Learning about local government, different Boards and Commissions, and the various seats/opportunities that are available every few years. All of these programs and networking opportunities are beneficial to bring the businesses in the county together, to grow and learn from each other. 

However, the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce is looking at the bigger picture, and the issues we face as businesses. They work hard to advocate for the needs of the Manistee County community. By partnering with other Chambers and economic development organizations throughout the state as part of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance (NMCA), we can not only make a difference in Manistee County but throughout Michigan. 

Earlier this year, our Chamber in partnership with the NMCA helped to initiate a bipartisan Childcare Package to expand “Access to Quality, Affordable Childcare for Families.”  As employers and business owners, it’s clear that Childcare is an important factor in the business economy. Without affordable childcare, parents are limited to jobs they can apply for and accept – leading to short staffing in local businesses.

Positive connections and networking can only be effective if everyone works together. By supporting and promoting our fellow businesses, we can all grow and improve. The Chamber has provided a quick and effective way to help promote local businesses through the manistee county ca$h program. This program has over 35 local participating businesses ranging from retail stores to restaurants. You can purchase manistee county ca$h right from Need a last-minute gift? These certificates are perfect for the family or a great addition to an employee bonus program. Let’s keep our money local and support our neighbors in business.  I personally have used these at places like Goody’s Juice and Java and Snyder’s Shoes. It is super easy to use, simply present it to the merchant, who scans the QR code or enters the 6-digit validation code to process your payment. New businesses are always welcome to join the program, please contact the Chamber for more information.

Manistee County continues to benefit from the Chamber of Commerce’s efforts in leadership, advocacy, and economic development. If you plan a visit to Downtown Manistee, take a moment to enjoy the new streetscaping along River Street.  Flowers, flags, some shaded tables, and the modern planter boxes are looking spectacular this year.  The streamlined look has really brought the look of the downtown together, and I know they are working on more improvements in the future.  As with all good things, it just takes a little time and patience to get things all lined up. 

Cindy Vasquez is a Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and personal lines agent at Peterson McGregor Insurance. She can be reached at