Today is National Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day. To celebrate, we asked Board Member Joy Eakins to share why she chose to join the Chamber and become more involved in creating a better business community.
By Joy Eakins
President of Cornerstone Design & Development, Inc.
I once assumed the local Chamber was just for big business. Not long after I started my business, my husband’s employer invited us to join their table for the Annual Honors Night. As we discussed the evening on the way home, Eric told me I should look at joining the Chamber. So I did. That was six years ago.
I still remember my first event: the Small Business Owner Roundtable. The location: High Touch Technologies. The topic: How to Recruit and Retain Employees.
I had just moved out of my home office. I had one part-time staff member. My business cards were printed on my home printer. I was intimidated and I almost didn’t go.
Every year since, a photo from that event (below) has popped up on my Facebook page, and I have been reminded how glad I am that I went. That day, I discovered one of the greatest assets of Wichita – other fantastic business leaders who care deeply about their companies, their employees, their customers, and the direction of the city and the state. I found people who are compassionate and giving. And I found people who honorably carry the weight of business ownership.
As a small business owner, I know the isolation that comes from wearing all the hats – the HR department, accounting team, janitor, lawyer and sales all at the same time. I know what it’s like to come in on the weekends and finish the books or get a head start on the next week. The nagging fear that it might not work out. The joy of the goal accomplished!
And at the Chamber, I found other business owners who understood. I found people who were willing to share what they learned when it didn’t work out, and leaders willing to celebrate the triumphs when it did. I found community.
Sure, there are large businesses in the Chamber. There are also middle-size businesses, small businesses and micro businesses. The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to ensure that all of us have a voice in this Chamber community. The support, advocacy, and work of their team make each of us better at what we do.