River Region Chamber of Commerce

Supporting sustainable businesses in the tri-parish region
River Region Chamber business members and local parish officials attend the 2016 Washington Fly-In.

Owning a business can be isolating and downright exhausting, but there are resources in the tri-parish area to help support new and expanding businesses. A local resource for economic and professional prosperity, the River Region Chamber of Commerce exists to grow, strengthen and unify small businesses so as to develop a community where they can thrive together.

Since 2004 the River Region Chamber of Commerce has been serving St. James, St. John and St. Charles Parish businesses. In fact, they are currently 333 members strong and just received their second Louisiana mid-size chamber of the year award. “It’s very humbling to know that even though we’re not [among the] largest chambers,” said Executive Director Chassity McComack,“we’re still noted as having a positive impact on our region’s business climate. You don’t have to be considered large to do good things or make a positive impact.”

The River Region Chamber of Commerce has a threefold plan to make this positive impact for their members: work force development, small business sustainability and small business engagement. “In the old days,” said Board Chair Annette Wray, “if your business was sustained for five years, you were in the clear. It’s not like that anymore, and since 66 percent of our membership is small business, it’s vital that we provide whatever tools we can so that we can help them grow and succeed in this harsh economic climate.”

To do this, the River Region Chamber of Commerce has partners like The Goldman Sachs Program and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center that brings their members tools, seminars and one-on-one sessions to ensure they can increase profit and succeed.

“A lot of small business owners also work in the business, so they don’t have much opportunity to actually work on the business,” Wray said. “You need to take a 1000 foot look down at your business; looking at the industries around it, looking at some projections moving forward and finding a better way to market the company, to better align the business with the economic environment. Through our initiatives, we offer this viewpoint to our members so they can continue to sustain.”
 

 L-R: 2016 Mid-Size Chamber of the Year: Pictured are Administrative Assistant, Janine Herrington, Executive Director Chassity McComack and 2016 Chairman, Annette Wray.
 

It’s this viewpoint and the tools like it that allow business owners the advantage of foresight. Like standing on the shoulder of a giant, these businesses start off with the boost of an organization that’s been through the ropes.

Sometimes, though, the adversity of business owning is only exacerbated by policies that arise in local and state issues. In times like these, when public policy issues are working their way through government, the River Region Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Committee goes straight to the senators to “allow their businesses an opportunity to tell their story,” said McComack. Last year, this member-constructed committee flew to Washington, D.C. and met face-to-face with each Louisiana legislator. “We call it the Washington, D.C. Fly In.” Wray explains, “We want to represent all of our members and share with the legislators what we are looking for, what our members are looking for and what kind of support we need in the tri-parish region. When we offer this support, our members have more of a voice and that’s what it takes to make sure that our region is fostering growth for all types of business.”

With so much success in 2016, the chamber is planning, keeping strong their mission to grow, strengthen and unify businesses in the tri-parish region. Wray expresses that, “It’s now time to expand this chamber and really make sure we are giving our members what they are looking for. We are continuing to offer a voice for these businesses and gain the resources they need to grow their networking, be sustainable and to be relevant in the region. This is what we are about — relationships, regionalism and relevance.”

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Categories: Maritime