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So, what is a chamber of commerce?

What exactly is the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce? I’ll start by saying that before I was in this position, I had no idea. I thought it was a city job, and knew it had something to do with business. It wasn’t even until a full year in that I thought to myself, what is the chamber? It was somewhat of an existential crisis, and to this day I can’t say that I’ve fully grasped it, as it is ever expanding. Now that I have a clearer understanding of our mission, I figured others might be interested in learning how the GINCC operates.

A common misconception about the chamber is that we are a city or government organization. Like I said — I thought the same! Chambers of Commerce are 501(c)6 membership-based nonprofit organizations. This means that our membership base is paid and voluntary, and is a huge part of what sustains us. We also host fundraising events to bring in income. The revenue from the membership and fundraising events goes directly back into the chamber and helps keep us open. From operational costs to supplies we use for Business After Hours; we wouldn’t be able to stay in business if not for our members and the community.

There’s an old adage in the chamber world that goes “if you’ve seen one chamber, you’ve seen one.” I feel that sums it up pretty perfectly! All chambers operate differently, but revolve around the same core mission of improving community and helping businesses. Our mission is “dedicated to building great businesses, great neighborhoods, and great places to experience Western Marquette County.” The GINCC specifically focuses on being a resource for businesses and the community, and promoting the West End of Marquette County. We host networking and educational events (Business After Hours and Resource Meetings), and offer a variety of services to member businesses such as graphic design, affordable copies and customer referrals. We always refer our chamber members first! We also have a member directory on our website, which not only serves as the directory, but being listed on it can help your business/organization to show up in more search results on Google. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The GINCC is not the Better Business Bureau or a small business development center, but we can direct you to the resources you need. We actually get quite a few calls from people who want to file a complaint with us, but as we are not a government agency, we have no authority to investigate how companies conduct business. I didn’t know this until I had gotten a couple calls and eventually researched on how to handle them! We don’t have the exact tools to help you start up a business, but we know the right people to get you started.

Not only do we serve the community we’re in, but visitors from all over the country come through our doors quite often looking for information on the area.

It’s actually challenging to try to sum up who we are. I know that we are proud to represent and serve the businesses and communities of the West End of Marquette County. We are proud to encourage growth and positivity. Whether we can help you with your needs or not, we can almost always guide you in the right direction. Give us a call at 906-486-1111 or stop in our office today to learn more!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gabi Kautz is the communications & marketing assistant for GINCC. She currently resides in Ishpeming. She enjoys traveling, yoga and photography.