Brownsburg Chamber Executive Director Talks Exciting Changes & Member Benefits
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
When Mike Arnould and his wife moved to Brownsburg in 1988, he started his own manufacturer’s agency. He also got involved with the Chamber of Commerce so that he could become involved with the community. His job required him to travel a good bit around Indiana and Kentucky. After awhile, he tired of the grind so when he was given the opportunity six years ago to become the Chamber’s Executive Director, he jumped at the chance, eager to bring the Chamber into the 21st Century. One of the first changes made was to update the website.
“Our website is our face to the world so we wanted to make it modern, clean and accessible,” Arnould says.
Not only did they revamp the design of the site itself, but they also added a database, making it more efficient for members to navigate. In addition, they optimized it to make it accessible on mobile devices. Members can use the website to register for chamber luncheons as well as list any events they are hosting on the community calendar.
“Our members are using it, and in doing so, that’s driving traffic to the website,” Arnould says. “We love that we’re acting as an avenue for people looking for a job to connect with those who are hiring.”
In keeping with modernization of the Chamber, they also have become active on Facebook Live and other social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
“We use these things as a vehicle to share info with the community,” Arnould says. “We like participating in these live events so that folks who can’t break away from work or make the event can feel like they’re right there and still a part of it.”
The Chamber sends out a weekly newsletter, highlighting events their members are involved in, as well as listing job postings and member press releases.
“Brownsburg is a growing community,” Arnould says. “That’s why the Chamber promotes and supports new businesses by attending ribbon cuttings and grand openings.”
Speaking of growth, Arnould is amazed by the amount of change that has taken place in Brownsburg over the past 20 years.
“We’ve gotten away from being a sleepy bedroom town and have become an active community with a vibrant presence in Hendricks County,” Arnould says. “At the same time, even as it has grown, it has kept its small-town charm.”
The Chamber, itself, has also flourished. When Arnould first became Executive Director, the Chamber had 135 members. Now they are up to 247. That’s due, in part, to the affordable membership cost (just $200 and offers a wide range of benefits).
The Brownsburg Chamber holds 10 luncheons a year on the third Wednesday of each month at the Brownsburg Fire Territory. Each one attracts between 80-100 people. They use their members as caterers, including Dawsons Too, So Italian and Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brewhouse. Networking is from 11-11:30 a.m., lunch is served at 11:30 a.m., and the program kicks off at noon.
At the start of each year, they have the “state of the schools” address by Dr. Jim Snapp, Brownsburg Superintendent, where he discusses the corporation’s plans for the upcoming year. The Town manager does a “state of the town” address in the spring.
“We invite all kinds of interesting speakers,” Arnould says.
For instance, in February they invited John McDonald, CEO of Clear Object, to speak. He discussed how artificial intelligence will affect our businesses and our world in the near future.
Once a year the Chamber invites 10 new members to share what they do. Last year the Chamber invited 47 new members. July is their nonprofit month where 10 of the Chamber’s nonprofit organizations share how they benefit the community. August is their “speed networking” luncheon where all the members have a chance to mingle for a longer stretch of time than at a typical meeting.
“People love having the chance to network in a structured setting,” Arnould says.
The holiday meal in December is an opportunity to tell members what the Chamber has done over the past year as well as plans for the future.
“Usually we invite the Brownsburg High School’s Madrigal singers to serenade us with festive songs to usher everyone into the spirit of the season,” Arnould says.
As far as new endeavors, recently the Chamber launched a monthly morning networking program called “AM Connect,” targeted for those who have a hard time making it to the luncheons due to work conflicts. It’s from 7:30-9 a.m. at Best Friends Coffee & Bagels on Main Street.
“It’s just a low-key networking event that usually attracts about a dozen people,” Arnould says.
In addition, this month the Chamber plans to start up a young professional’s group. That’s because Arnould has noticed during his tenure with the Chamber that a lot of the managers coming into Brownsburg are of the younger generation.
“They are looking for an avenue to network among their peers,” Arnould says. “So once a month we’re going to gather 18 to 39-year-olds to let them figure out avenues for how they can give to the community.”
Fun annual events include the fall golf outing, Trivia Night in the spring and the Festival of the Arts in the summer.
This July will mark the 41st Annual Festival of the Arts in Arbuckle Acres Park where 100 local artisans gather to sell their goodies. It’s a wildly popular event that typically draws around 2,000 people. While this will only be the 2nd Annual Trivia Night, held at the American Legion Post in Brownsburg, it’s shaping up to be popular, too.
“We hope to have 20 tables of eight this year,” Arnould adds. “It’s a fun evening for people to network and have a night out.”
Arnould has noticed that younger families are moving to Brownsburg, and older generations (grandparents of those families) are following behind to live close to their offspring. Often these people drop by the Chamber office requesting restaurant, church or real estate info, a community map or a suggestion for a plumber or handyman.
“We love being a resource for our community,” Arnould says. “I also love being the community’s cheerleader.”
The Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce is located at 1411 S. Green Street on the 2nd floor of the medical building. For more information or to become a member, visit brownsburg.com.