When Calli Berg stepped away from the Greater Bridgman Chamber & Growth Alliance earlier this year to accept a new Economic Development role outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her team reached out to the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce for interim assistance to help run the show. That interim assistance is now becoming permanent as the two chambers merge and along with that news comes with the addition of Susan Solon to the Chamber staff.
Today the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce and Greater Bridgman Chamber & Growth Alliance (CGA) have agreed to an affiliation agreement, integrating both groups of members into one. The agreement comes after the Cornerstone Chamber agreed to assist the Greater Bridgman CGA with administrative and member support after the departure of their Executive Director, Berg, earlier in the year.
Greater Bridgman CGA Board Chair Georgia Gipson adds “After working with Cornerstone Chamber for the last five months and seeing the value they bring as an organization to our members we knew this was the best decision for everyone involved.” The affiliation creates a more than 800 member chamber that will continue to focus on visibility, networking, advocacy, and legislative & government affairs to best assist local businesses, ultimately providing a voice for them in multiple areas.
Cornerstone Chamber President Chris Heugel says, “If you look across the country more and more chambers are coming together and regionalizing, with the opportunity that became available for us to help the Greater Bridgman CGA and their members on an interim basis, it just made sense that we’d come together as one.”
Regional or large area based chambers allow for a larger coverage area and member base to be formed. With the increase in the member base, regional/area chambers are able to have a larger voice, not only in the community, but with legislative advocacy, and the overall health of the business community. Heugel adds, “Great things are happening in Southwest Michigan! We hope this is the first of many opportunities to combine and continue assisting businesses across Berrien County.”
The affiliation comes at the same time as the Cornerstone Chamber announces Susan Solon has agreed to join the organization as Member Services Director. Solon, who recently retired from the City of St. Joseph after 22 years, will join the staff in a full-time capacity on Monday, November 5th. Additionally, current staff member, Sarah Spoonholtz, will move from an Administrative role to the Events and Marketing Director, as well as continue as the primary contact for the Greater Bridgman CGA’s members.
The Greater Bridgman CGA has been a 501(c)3 organization created with the 2014 merger of the Greater Bridgman Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bridgman-Lake Township Economic Growth Alliance. The CGA provides economic/community development and chamber services to its members in the Lake to Grapes region.
Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 member-driven organization encouraging the growth of business through networking, advocacy, visibility and benefits for all of our members. The Chamber represents 700 businesses that provide 36,000 jobs for the community.