Founded in 1893, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce is the community’s leading advocate and champion for business. Its primary objective is to create a climate of growth and success in our community.
The chamber provides leadership programs and opportunities, as well as volunteer programs and business-building initiatives that focus on the critical priorities of the community. By leveraging the support, talent and resources of its members, the Toledo Regional Chamber is one of the leading organizations helping to improve the economic vitality and quality of life for everyone.
The chamber works toward its goal in three ways.
First, the chamber is an advocate for business by working to improve the region’s business climate through its involvement in issues and legislation that impact business, as well as providing a unified voice of job providers at all levels of government.
In addition to its advocacy activities, the chamber conducts an annual leadership course, the Leadership Academy, designed to enhance the leadership ability and decision-making skills of public officials, those considering running for public office or those who serve on local government committees and boards. Topics include leadership skills, conflict management, dispute resolution and intergovernmental relations.
Programs and benefits
Secondly, the chamber works to improve the business climate and community through programs and benefits. The chamber created EPIC — Engaging People Inspiring Change — a young professionals organization. Launched in February 2007, EPIC continues to grow, engaging more than 650 young professionals. The goal of EPIC Toledo is not only to help attract and retain diverse young talent, but also to develop future business and community leaders. With educational events on issues, such as economic development and networking, to monthly unplugged events, EPIC is meeting its mission — connecting young professionals to each other and to the community.
The New Schools New Neighborhood Coalition (NSNN), sponsored by the chamber, was started shortly after the Toledo Public Schools comprehensive school building project that would result in the construction or rehabilitation of all school buildings. NSNN has developed plans to facilitate and promote the development and revitalization of vital, sustainable neighborhoods surrounding the new school sites. Specifically, plans have been developed with the involvement of the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center, the Local Initiative Support Corporation, the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission, the City of Toledo, local community development corporations and others.
Events and benefits exclusive to chamber members help reduce the cost of doing business and increase more business-to-business opportunities. Discounted programs for health care, workers-compensation pooling, office supplies, shipping and more provide savings for members companies. Networking events also give valuable opportunities for members to interact with each other and build valuable business relationships.
Thirdly, the Chamber’s Business Development Services, as part of an entrepreneurial support system, provides no-cost business consulting, business-plan assistance, direct help to assist companies in contracting with the government, obtaining minority business contracts and engaging in international business. From starting a new company to maintaining or expanding an existing one, the programs of the Business Development Services help economic development in our region.
In 2007, the Chamber’s Small Business Development Center assisted more than 675 clients with 24 new business starts and accessing more than $11 million in capital.
The Minority Contractor and Business Assistance Program served 173 clients, assisted clients to secure $1.2 million in contracts and $950,000 in capital, and helped 65 clients obtain their certification.
The Procurement Technical Assistance Program served more than 218 clients and secured more than $17 million in awarded contracts.
The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce also partners and collaborates daily with other organizations to advance economic development efforts. Partners include the Regional Growth Partnership, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the Lucas County Improvement Corporation, the Source Northwest Ohio, the University of Toledo and Owens Community College.
Mark A. V’Soske, CAE, is president of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.