Businesses Working Together Do Big Things for Northern Michigan

OblingerTwo are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A biblical verse is a fitting source of inspiration for a business organization like the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, considering it used to start its board meetings with a prayer. The truism of strength in numbers drives home a powerful message of what makes membership organizations like the Chamber both relevant and impactful, and why it’s important to have as many local businesses as possible be part of the team.

For a northern Michigan community to boast a 2,000-member Chamber is an incredible achievement. It puts our region on par with some of the most influential business organizations in Michigan, including the Detroit Regional Chamber and the West Michigan Policy Forum. In fact, the Traverse City Area Chamber partners with both those organization on state and national legislative and policy matters.

It also matters because when it comes to impacting outcomes or influencing important decisions that affect the business sector and the community, an organization with 2,000 members wields significantly more clout than a group with a few hundred. While our businesses vary widely in size and scope, the Chamber is able to bring that collective influence to all its members, from the one-person shop or office to some of our region’s largest employers.

That strength is drawn from all corners of the organization. Most of our larger members have their own business development resources and don’t really need the Chamber’s help to succeed. They invest significant time and dollars in the Chamber to support ALL of Northern Michigan’s business family – including the single-owner operations, small partnerships and family-run businesses that make up the lion’s share of the organization. Those investments underwrite numerous programs and services that specifically target our small business members, from networking events to professional development services, and recognition programs like the annual Small Business Celebration that kicks off this month.

What’s most important is that the Chamber is so much more than a building on the parkway, an event or program or the staff that works here. The Chamber is built on people – from our newest members to our volunteers that helped recruit them, to the handful of local businesses that have been of the organization throughout its 100-year history and everyone in between. It’s a chord of more than 2,000 strands that binds this great community together, has pulled it through some challenging economic times and will continue serve as a lifeline for prosperity going forward.

Laura Oblinger is the Executive Director of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact her by email at