Known as a smaller town with high-achieving schools, Harrisburg is a desirable place to live and has benefited families and children in many ways.
Residents and business owners have invested in the community by opening many small- to medium-size retail and service businesses over the years, and they continue to do so.
Getting a new business off the ground can be difficult, according to John Greene, owner of Camelot Pressure Washing of Harrisburg. In 2004, a small group of local business owners shared their common experiences and concerns about promoting their businesses. Seeing the need to combine their efforts and work together for a common goal, the group developed the Harrisburg Business Networkers group.
Although there were several large business networking groups in bordering towns, most placed heavy emphasis on business lead generation and large memberships.
"While these techniques are desirable to some, these were not the core values that HBN wanted to build upon," Greene said. "We wanted to establish a business group that was focused on the town of Harrisburg."
From the beginning, the members of HBN worked toward building individual members' businesses. The theory adopted as the foundation for the group was "building business through friendship."
Greene, president of HBN, agrees. "Who better to refer your own clients to, than your friends and their businesses?"
This thread of friendship proved to be successful for not only the growth of the group but for the quality of the business leads they generate.
With 32 members, HBN is the largest networking group in Harrisburg and is constantly growing.
To be considered for membership you must meet one of three criteria: Your business must be in Harrisburg; you must live in Harrisburg, or your business must serve Harrisburg.
A membership committee screens the applicant through an interview process before presenting them to the board of directors and the entire group for a unanimous decision to include the applicant. If any member has a legitimate concern about an applicant during the process, they are no longer considered for membership.
The group's policy on exclusivity is appealing to members. Once you become an HBN member, no other company that provides the same goods and services is permitted to join. HBN's membership standards continue to reflect its allegiance to the town.
Since its inception, the group has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business, just through member referrals to each other.
HBN also has a philanthropic component to it. Members are planning its first charitable event, a golf tournament scheduled for May 6 at the Rocky River Golf Club in Concord.
All proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Honor Flight, an organization that helps World War II veterans go to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial, built to honor the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces.
HBN meets in Harrisburg twice per month. Each meeting is catered and includes presentations from members and invited business professionals. The group also hosts several social events throughout the year. The cost of membership is $160 per year. For information on how to join, visit www.harrisburgncbusiness.com.