Which chambers of commerce have received distinctions?


Two regional chambers of commerce have been recognized by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals for their hard work over a few difficult years.

Benzie County Chamber of Commerce and Manistee Region Chamber of Commerce both received the 2021 Distinction Award at the Association’s Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting, which was held October 22 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa.

The association’s board of directors chose to present the award to each chamber that is a member of the association, according to a press release, noting that all chambers have experienced difficult times and had to make difficult decisions during the first year of the pandemic.


“Michigan Chambers of Commerce have played an extraordinary role in keeping businesses informed of changes in government regulations, security protocol and sources of financial assistance,” said Joe Bauman, president of the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals in a press release. “Any chamber capable of offering programs and supporting its members after a year of closure deserves to be recognized. “

The press release then describes the difficulties encountered by the chambers in 2020.

“Chamber organizations across the state have served as clearinghouses for thousands of businesses and their communities struggling to make sense of rapidly evolving mandates that have forced many organizations to close their doors, to move on. remote operations or identifying essential employees overnight, “the statement read. “House staff have worked tirelessly to answer questions, direct resources and advocate for the entire business community. “

Michelle Barefoot, director of the Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, said she could not take full credit for the award.

“The bedroom is not me; I’m not the bedroom, ”she said. “The chamber operates on behalf of the region’s business community and organizations. The chamber has an extraordinary board of directors. We have a great team here at the Benzie Room. This team and the efforts made throughout the year have been essential in weathering this storm and making an impact in our community. “

Barefoot said trying to bypass COVID-19 restrictions and help businesses while dealing with the influx of visitors was a challenge.

“The pandemic has definitely posed a challenge, not only because we are a place of destination, but also because we work with the business community as a whole just trying to re-tool and understand all of the mandates and try to disseminate information. I think the chamber has done a tremendous job in making this information as accessible and streamlined as possible to enable companies to stay in business and do things right by them and by laws and mandates. “

Barefoot said being part of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance helped, and it was thanks to the alliance’s advocacy in Lansing that businesses in Northern Michigan were able to open a little earlier and with fewer restrictions. .

“We appreciate the award and recognition for all the hard work that has been done in 2020 to support our businesses and our local community,” said Kristina Bajtka, director of communications and investor relations for the Chamber of Commerce of the Manistee region. “Chamber organizations as a whole have tried to keep our members / investors informed of the daily changes that the pandemic has posed.”

Bajtka said 2020 is a year of reflection on chamber operations.

“The past year has certainly been difficult, but for our chamber it was time to rethink our priorities and our funding model,” she said. “We’ve narrowed down our top priorities to four that follow our mission and serve both our investors and the community. The four priorities are advocacy, economic development, leadership and downtown development authority.

“As part of the conference, the Manistee Chamber, TraverseConnect and the Midland Business Alliance were selected to orchestrate a panel discussion on new ways in which Chambers are leading their communities with a focus on economic development and advocacy. We are honored to be one of them. of the main chambers of the state and happy to share this information with our fellow chambers. “

Stacie Bytwork, president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, said the association’s conference in Crystal Mountain was a great opportunity to reconnect with colleagues from across the state.

Bytwork was also elected chairman of the association’s board of directors.

“I want to thank the Michigan Chamber Professionals Association and Crystal Mountain for doing a wonderful job at the conference,” she said. “The event allowed us to come together and reconnect with our colleagues from across the state. It will be an honor to lead MACP over the coming year as the new president.”


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