Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce

The Force Behind our Business Community, Mike Combs, Greater Greenwood Chamber Chair

Writer  /  Frieda Dowler
Photographer  /  Donna Rice Photography

popular movie phrase “May the force be with you” describes the support that the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce offers its business community. That force helps create a viable and stable economy through their members and translates into economic development for the greater Greenwood area.

Promoting Local Economy
Public perception is that a chamber of commerce’s role is to help create jobs and promote local economic development. But how does that happen? Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce (GGCC) does this by supporting business members with information, knowledge, opportunities for networking and personal enrichment. They don’t regulate business members in any way; rather, they exist to encourage a strong business environment. A healthy business environment will naturally create jobs and economic development.

GGCC offers new members a look at how this works in the Membership 101 class. The welcome meeting covers member benefits, introduces staff and answers questions about the GGCC and how it operates.
The diagram below explains it well.


When community businesses are able to hire suitable employees, those jobs bring income to purchase housing and retail, thereby fueling taxes that provide education for our workforce which attracts jobs. That’s how the cycle of economic development works. Therefore, member representation in the GGCC, from all facets of this cycle, is necessary to make it work effectively.

GGCC’s Infrastructure
A volunteer board of directors leads the GGCC, which has been in existence since 1954. Currently, four executive officers and 11 board members offer their time and expertise for a three-year period. One time each month, they meet to discuss matters such as public policy and their official position. They employ a staff of four people, which includes a president/CEO to manage the administration of staff and programs.

Mike Combs from the National Bank of Indianapolis in Greenwood is the Chairman of the Board of the GGCC as of April 1, 2015. His involvement in Greenwood activities, particularly with Little League, is widely known, and he has served on the GGCC board of directors since 2009. He served through the decline in Chamber membership after the economic downturn in 2008 when membership went from 700 to about 500; he continued to serve during the recent increase to 800 members, giving him great insight into community needs.

Christian Maslowski, president/CEO of GGCC for the past eight years, continues to oversee daily operations. He says some misconceptions exist about what a chamber of commerce is and how it functions. He attributes this to the fact that not all chambers of commerce have the same focus.

Chambers exist in every region of Indiana. Most are not a government entity but operate as a nonprofit organization with their own business plan and goals.

Although mission statements vary, each local chamber works toward one or more of the following primary goals:

• Business advocacy with local, state and federal governments
• Community development
• Community promotion
• Business retention, attraction and startup
• Business networking and referrals

Combs’ drive as the new board chair is to see area businesses thrive and do well. He plans to execute programs to let the public know who is doing what and to bring greater support to small businesses. He also plans to participate regularly with other Indiana Chambers of Commerce to share ideas and learn what other chambers are doing.

Maslowski says the GGCC also serves as a resource for the community. Since Greenwood doesn’t have a visitor’s bureau, you may stop by the office on Main Street where you can pick up a copy of publications such as The Chamber Business Book which lists reputable small businesses, Community Guide with map and The Trail and Festival Guide.

Legislation Affecting Economic Development
Business advocacy is a big focus for the GGCC. Legislative advocacy means the chamber engages in issues pertaining to economic development that affect legislation. The purpose is to present a unified voice to appropriate government leaders that affect the health of the local economy. The goal is to work with state and local government to create opportunity for jobs.

Legislation Matters Luncheons are events designed as a forum to put business members and top policy issues in front of our elected officials. These events are open to the public. Four events in 2015 include representatives from Greenwood (Mayor Myers), State Legislators and the United States Senate. In these events, they discuss key issues and ask questions about any of those issues that may be important to you or your business.

Getting to Know Your Chamber
The GGCC hosts 25 events a year to help meet their goals. The three most notable events are Taste of the Southside, Chamber Golf Classic and the Women Leaders Symposium.

• Taste of the Southside, an annual event, was February 22 at Valle Vista Conference Center. Over 35 local restaurants participated, allowing over 1,100 people in the community to sample their menus. This is an exciting way to know area restaurants.

• Chamber Golf Classic, a popular event, will mix business with pleasure July 23 at Dye’s Walk Country Club. The proceeds help fund other chamber programs throughout the year. This is a great way to network with other businesses.

• Women Leaders Symposium encourages women to become effective leaders in our community. This educational event will be held September 24 at Johnson County Armory. The focus is on issues that impact women business owners and women in business.

Other events include Business After Hours, connecting with other businesses; Business Expo After Hours, promoting your business to over 200 business leaders; Business Matters Luncheons, learning and networking; Chamber Holiday Celebration, thanking members from the chamber; and Membership 101, introducing new members to programs and events, along with sponsorship opportunities.

Become the Force
The GGCC hopes citizens of the community will be involved in its economic health. Whether you volunteer within the chamber organization, participate as a member, attend the events, encourage education, vote on issues pertaining to economic growth or shop local small business, it all matters. Together we decide what our community becomes. “May the force be YOU.”

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