The Matthews Chamber of Commerce has partnered with a local community college to offer members a series of programs.
Chamber leaders are hoping the series is the beginning of more partnerships with other local colleges and universities.
Central Piedmont Community College has provided speakers for the chamber’s monthly luncheons for March and April, and is expected to provide the speakers for the May and June luncheons as well, said chamber Executive Director Tina Whitley.
“We thought this would be a good resource for us to reach out to and take advantage of,” Whitley said. “We want people who can give our members takeaways for them to help their businesses grow and succeed.”
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Renee Hode, executive director of CPCC’s Small Business Center, said the partnership is mutually beneficial.
“We want to work with small downtown businesses, and Matthews is the epitome of a downtown, homey community,” Hode said. “We really want to reach out and help build and grow this community.”
Hode said that by supporting small businesses, the city can attract larger ones, because smaller businesses often provide the character and personality of a community, which serves as a quality-of-life incentive for big companies to relocate.
Denay Davis, owner of the Charlotte Pie Authority and an instructor with CPCC’s Small Business Center, kicked off the series in March. Davis discussed how entrepreneurs can define their niche, position their business and market their product
During the April 8 luncheon, Thomas Conroy, owner of TEC Strategic Partner and an instructor with CPCC’s Small Business Center, was the guest speaker. He talked to chamber members about the importance of adapting a business to the times, identifying a vision and goals early and planning strategically.
Conroy also talked about regularly taking inventory in a business plan of what’s working and what’s not.
He also told chamber members the importance of having SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound – goals. For instance, instead of resolving to “earn enough to be comfortable,” he said, entrepreneurs should be specific and say, “Earn $100,000 by 2016.”
Louis Foreman, president of Enventys and an instructor with CPCC’s Small Business Center, is scheduled to speak in May. His program is titled, “Inventions, Innovations and What’s Ahead for Small Businesses.”
A June speaker has not yet been announced, said Whitley.
Russ Gill, chairman of the chamber’s marketing committee, said he was inspired to form the partnership between the chamber and CPCC when he attended one of Conroy’s small-business classes last fall. The class covered how to start a business plan.
“I thought, ‘This guy really knows his stuff,’ and he’s a great speaker and an entrepreneur – it was a natural collaboration with the Small Business Center,” Gill said.
From there, Gill started a conversation with Hode, who helped create the series.
“Partnering with CPCC’s Small Business Center was a natural fit for the chamber, since we’re both in the business of supporting business,” said Gill.
Gill said he hopes the partnership is the beginning of a new era for the chamber, in which they partner more often with local colleges and universities.
He said he thinks the expertise local colleges and universities can offer is invaluable to the chamber’s 425 current member businesses.
“Most of our members are working so hard within their own business that they need information that they normally wouldn’t get,” said Whitley. “They’re busy keeping their business afloat and hopefully successful.
“What we’re looking for are takeaways that small business can benefit from.”
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
For information on Matthews Chamber of Commerce luncheons, visit www.matthewschamber.com.