Chamber of Commerce aims to keep growing

CAMBRIDGE – Leaders and members of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce were joined by local and state officials on Thursday at the group’s 72nd Annual Membership Meeting and Dinner at the Hyatt Resort.

Jeff Hubbard, 2017 chairman, said the Chamber had grown to 446 members, and is itself being run like a business. That has resulted in the group’s having ended 2017 “in solid financial condition,” Mr. Hubbard said.

He also noted that membership has not only increased in number, but is also quite active, with 1,300 people attending ribbon cuttings last year.

While members celebrate the openings of new businesses, they also receive support from the Chamber. “We had 16 educational events” in 2017, such as financial training, Mr. Hubbard said.

The organization’s Government Affairs Committee has been busy in studying legislative issues and passing on information to the membership. “We’re here to let you know how these things affect you,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Lori Nagel is the 2018 chamber chairman, and is already setting goals for continued expansion. “We set our membership target as 460,” she said.

She said the chamber will maintain its outreach to all parts of the county, and will hold a number of events, including a boat-docking contest on June 16 at Long Wharf in Cambridge. “It will be the first boat docking of the season,” she said.

The audience received an update from the Dorchester Chamber Foundation, courtesy of Gerry Boyle. The foundation gave $20,000 to students last year, and intends to give at least that much this year, he said.

“The scholarship fund is designed to stem the flow of talent” out of the county, Mr. Boyle said.

Mr. Boyle shared news from two recipients, Paige Bleyer and Beth Thomas, who are both doing well in college. Mr. Boyle said of them and the other students who have received support, “These are great young people who will give back much more to the community than the value of the scholarships.”

Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly M. Schulz was the keynote speaker.

“You all got it going on here,” she said as she stepped to the podium, noting the positive energy she sensed in the room.

“It’s all about jobs,” she said. “Since January 2015, we have experienced 115,000 job creations under the Hogan Administration.”

“What I heard this evening was the need for talent,” she said, adding that her department’s mission is to connect businesses’ needs with the sources of that talent, such as schools.

Ms. Schulz said Maryland has gained national attention for the success of its workforce development programs. These return $15 to the state for every dollar invested in workforce development, while the national average is $3.80.

She told the business owners and executives if they need talent, “Just call. We’re here to make those connections.”

Also part of the evening were presentations of certificates to outgoing directors Dave Cannon and Jennifer Layton, as well as to artist Michael Rosato, who created the cover for the chamber’s 2018 directory.

Officers for 2018 are Chairman Lori Nagel, Chairman Elect Gerry Boyle, Past Chairman Jeff Hubbard, Vice Chairman Sarah Baugh and Vice Chairman and Treasurer Lynnell Collins.

Directors for 2018 are Jermaine Anderson, Joel Bunde, Scott Dorsey, Philicia Drayton, Patrick Fanning, Kevin Hill, Lucie Hughes, Eddie James, Denny Jones, Marty Mullaney, Adam Shellhamer and Sharon Spedden.

The chamber’s Member Support Team is comprised of Robin Marie Burton and Robin Stanley.

Also in attendance were the area’s state legislators: Sen. Addie Eckardt (R-37), Delegate John Mautz (R-37B), Delegate Christopher Adams (R-37B), and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-37A).

To contact the chamber, call 410-228-3575 or e-mail info@dorchesterchamber.org.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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