Keynote speaker shared practical advice on building a diverse organization
The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce announced today that it will become the Flint & Genesee Group, effective April 1. The newly branded organization will market its network of services through four divisions dedicated collectively to advancing the region’s attractiveness as a great place to live, work, play and invest.
The new name and brand architecture revealed at the Chamber’s 2021 annual meeting, held virtually, reflects a market-driven response to creating growth and transformation of Flint & Genesee’s business community.
“Our new brand strategy will provide our stakeholders with easier entry points into the organization and connect them more readily with the services, resources and information they need,” said Flint & Genesee Chamber CEO Tim Herman. “Broadly speaking, the Flint & Genesee Group will focus squarely on improving the economic success of Genesee County and its residents.
“We will accomplish this through the work of our four divisions: Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance; Flint & Genesee Chamber; Flint & Genesee Education & Talent; and Explore Flint & Genesee.”
The roles and responsibilities of the divisions include:
- Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance is responsible for business retention and attraction, private investment, and jobs in Genesee County.
- Flint & Genesee Chamber adds capacity to small businesses.
- Flint & Genesee Education & Talent prepares youth and adults for academic and career success.
- Explore Flint & Genesee promotes the region and increases tourism in Genesee County.
“We believe that our rebranding will fundamentally improve our audiences’ understanding of who we are, what we offer and to whom,” said Herman.
In addition to unveiling a new name and brand identity at the meeting, the Chamber presented its accomplishments from 2020, a year defined and shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Annual Report, themed “2020 Disruption Fueled Innovation,” provides details on how the Chamber navigated the challenges of the past year and responded to the changing needs of its stakeholders and the broader community. The organization became much more digitally focused to deliver services, information and value during an unprecedented year, affected by shutdowns, social distancing and mask requirements.
“It was a defining year marked by three interconnected issues: a global pandemic and ensuing economic downturn; a racial and cultural awakening about the pain caused by a long history of racial injustice and a highly divisive U.S. presidential election,” Herman said. “Amid these major disruptions, our team realized what we’ve built over time – in terms of our culture, leadership, agility, and trust – would play a significant role in our ability to navigate a crisis like no other in modern history.”
The Chamber learned early on that the global pandemic was significantly impacting Flint and Genesee County small businesses. To respond, a greater portion of the Chamber’s resources were dedicated to small business support; enlisting staff from across the organization to provide information, referrals, and financial resources; and to being a good listener and advocate for the business community.
Also during the meeting, keynote speaker Bethaney Wilkinson, founder of The Diversity Gap Academy, delivered a 10-minute presentation on how leaders can drive equity and inclusion in their businesses and organizations.
“Intentional leaders make all the difference,” Wilkinson told viewers. “They dignify people. They pay attention to power. They practice costly hospitality.
“You have what it takes to create this kind of culture. I encourage you to be bold, to be brave and to take some risks,” Wilkinson added.
Following are 2020 accomplishments directly related to the organization’s business advocacy, economic development, tourism and education efforts, and other programs and services:
- Administered COVID-relief programs for Flint & Genesee and Thumb Region, including:
- Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Relief Program – awarded $850,000 to 191 companies in Region 6
- MEDC’s Michigan Restart Program – awarded $7.6 million to 868 small businesses in Region 6
- Restart Flint & Genesee Grant program; awarded $570,000 to 144 Genesee County small businesses
- Awarded $150,000 to 15 Flint-based small businesses through General Motors-funded Moving Flint Forward grant program
- Supported more than $6.5 million in private investment, creating 307 new jobs
- Responded to 32 site selection Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
- 36 webinars to share COVID-related resources
- 1,800 participants in 42 professional development workshops
- 15 graduates of the sixth cohort of Lead Now Flint & Genesee
- Over 500 students per month on average served remotely by YouthQuest at 13 sites
- Nearly 250 graduates of TeenQuest
- 140 students utilized the Flint Promise Scholarship
- 4,608 room nights secured for Genesee County hotels
- Web traffic was up nearly 30 percent over 2019
- 6 million+ people reached by placed advertising
The Chamber’s full Annual Report is available online at annualreport.flintandgenesee.org.