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Getting to Know Your Chamber of Commerce
When looking to relocate to Weirton or to take a bold new step in business, one of the first places to go is always the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce.
But what is a chamber of commerce, exactly, and what exactly can they do for you? Let’s sit down with Chamber President Brenda Mull and get to know the organization better.
“A chamber of commerce is an organization that works for business and helps promote businesses through services offered,” Mull explained. She added that the Weirton Chamber is a nonprofit 503c6 organization.
“We are a group of many businesses,” Mull said. “One of our primary services is networking. When a business joins, it gets to join our network.”
The Chamber’s 2018 Membership directory included several hundred listings, including major manufacturers, retailers, service providers, other nonprofits, government agencies, and much more.
Since 1936 the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce has worked with the City of Weirton and other major community actors to live up to their mission: “Businesses and Professional People working together to make their community a better place for everyone to live and work.”
Those who read the City of Weirton’s piece about starting your own business in Weirton may remember the importance of having a business plan. This is one of the Chamber’s first services they can offer a new business, according to Mull. They also prepare specially curated relocation packets for those just coming to the city, and send out promotional material all over the country to encourage investment in the community.
“But it’s not just about business functions,” Mull said. “We are always thinking outside the box, always striving to innovate and give businesses new ideas.”
Here are a few of the special programs the Weirton Chamber has championed over the years:
- Leadership Program – Since 1992, this program has offered business individuals the chance to learn more about their community, meet government officials, and even take a trip to Charleston to sit in on the state legislature. Working in conjunction with Hancock County Commissioner Jeff Davis, this is a 7-month class that includes a full graduation and college credit for those completing a degree.
- Youth Leadership – 30 high school sophomores are enrolled in a highly effective SIMSOC session where they are placed into groups to simulate societies. These groups then face a hands-on challenge to live in that society. The details for this program are confidential, but feedback has always been highly positive.
- High School Business Symposium – For one day in April, 120 high school juniors from local high schools are taught about business through a rigorous hands-on curriculum. Adult tasks taught include sitting for an interview and working a budget. They are then given a project to finish by the end of the day. According to Mull, this program is not only popular among students, but it is also beloved by guidance counselors.
- Shop Around Your Hometown – Working with local media outlets, the Chamber encourages people to shop local. Spending money on local business keeps money local so it can come back and benefit the community itself.
- “Your Chamber and You” – In cooperation with the Weirton Daily Times, the Chamber puts one of their members in the newspaper every week. This is free to the member, and reaches readers across the Weirton area.
“We are not just here for business,” Mull said. “We are here for the community as well.”
For this reason, those attending City Council meetings can almost always expect to see Brenda and a few other Chamber members present. There is even a Government Affairs Committee made up of Chamber members who keep tabs on government trends, especially those pertaining to the business community.
With networking being so important to the Chamber, the organization hosts social events throughout the year to encourage it:
- Wine and Dine – An annual event which brings Chambers members together for an evening of good food and drink. Like everything else with the organization, this event is always changing and trying new ideas. For example, the addition of an outdoor “Mancave” was well-received last year.
- Ladies’ Day at the Chamber – In April, always the day after Administrative Professionals’ Day, businesses get a chance to showcase their offerings to the ladies of Weirton. Currently in its second year and open to the public.
- Annual Membership Meeting and Banquet – This is when members get together to discuss the year’s accomplishments, plans, and innovations.
- Home and Garden Expo – Always in March, this event lets people shake the winter blues as they look ahead to their warm weather projects.
- Annual Christmas Parade – A staple of the Weirton holiday season with plenty of cherished community parties involved. The Chamber also owns Christmas lights which the City of Weirton sets up and takes down for them.
- Angel Tree Toy Project – Giving people a chance to give to those less fortunate during the most wonderful time of the year
- Munch and Mingle – On the first Thursday of the month, this rotating networking event gives business professionals another chance to get together in a relaxed social setting while showcasing a local business.
- Grand openings/ Ribbon Cuttings – The Chamber sets these up, contacts media sources, and reaches out to government officials to invite them to attend.
While people can join the Chamber of Commerce online at https://www.weirtonchamber.com/membership/join-the-chamber/, Mull strongly encourages them to come to the office at 3174 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 1 to get a membership packet and go over everything with a Chamber representative.
“There’s something for everybody if you want to take part,” Mull said. “But the only way it can benefit you is if you participate.”