By Sarah Shurge – Small businesses aren’t the only thing that have taken a hit during COVID-19; the Wayne Chamber of Commerce has as well.
The Wayne Chamber is an organization in the city that is comprised of small businesses within the city. It is a networking organization. A promotion organization. An organization that keeps small businesses together and informed.
So, how do you network when a pandemic shuts things down? What do you do? The answer is simple. You have to change. You have to adapt.
Prior to COVID, the Chamber had 80 members. Stan Shelton has been one of those members since 2010. However, originally, he had no intentions to join.
In 2010, the Wayne Chamber put on a farmers market and Shelton went to sign up, but he noticed they needed help setting up the tents, tables, and signs. So, he volunteered to help. Next thing he knew, the Chamber President at the time was recommending him for the board.
Flash forward to 2012, and Shelton was voted Chamber President, for the first time. He was then voted President again in 2018 and has held the position for going on three years.
Voting for the board happens once a year, usually around when the Chamber’s Christmas Luncheon happens. All of the Chamber’s events are centered around networking, where small businesses can get to know others. The Christmas Luncheon is a huge networking event for all members of the Chamber, along with an auction that takes place during the luncheon.
The Wayne Chamber is a member organization and relies on membership dues, funding, donations, and fundraising. A golf outing in 2019 brought in a large amount of funding for the Chamber.
Back in October 2020, the State of Michigan reopened, and the Wayne Chamber was able to host a Back-To-Work event at the Phoenix Theaters State Wayne. Around 40 members showed up to the event.
However, networking events are harder to come by with COVID-19 still lingering. Shelton has been looking for outdoor events that can happen safely with social distancing, and looking for virtual events like online seminars over zoom.
You change. You adapt.
The Chamber used to host a coffee event on the second Tuesday of the month. This allowed members to get together and network and get to know the member that sponsored the coffee. Now, they do a virtual coffee event hosted by a member.
You change. You adapt.
The Wayne Chamber has nine board members. There are currently two vacancies, one of which is the Vice President.
President: Stan Shelton with J&S Portrait America Photography. Treasurer: Maria Rico with Lobo Tires. Members: Amanda Dybus with Wayne-Westland Schools, Magan Zuk with Advantage Living Center, Daryan Edmonds with Clay Nissan State Farm Insurance, Sue Elliot with Storage Asset, and Chelsea Rushlow with Imperial Press.
For a while there were no women on the board, but as mentioned, things change.
In order to continue to adapt, the Wayne Chamber recently hired Zachary Burskey, as an Executive Director back in January. Burskey has experience in digital media and social media to help the organization deal with COVID and expand benefits to the members.
A new website was created back in November: waynechamber.org
If you are interested in getting involved, becoming a member, or have any questions regarding the Chamber, you can visit the website for an application or information, or call (734)721-0100.