In Grand Rapids, we don't have to do business alone. The Chamber's purpose is to help West Michigan businesses grow and thrive. We’re here to make business opportunities both more accessible — and more rewarding.
Advocacy & Public Policy
In the midst of changing times, your business needs an advocate that speaks your language. At the Chamber, we work tirelessly to shape policies, ideas, and opportunities that improve the business environment.
of Chamber-endorsed candidates won general election
The Chamber helps businesses to create strong leaders and a more diverse, inclusive workforce. We work alongside organizations as they welcome, connect, and engage needed talent.
Join the Chamber
Discover the power of having the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce as a partner, delivering the information, influence, and access you need.
Your business is our business.
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber is a champion for business growth and success in West Michigan. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber’s membership spans 100 different cities throughout West Michigan and beyond, with a concentration in the region’s economic hub of Grand Rapids
The West Michigan Minority Contractors Association (WMMCA), a program of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, aims to provide opportunities to cultivate corporate relationships and new business partnerships among members.
The WMMCA membership is made up of minority-owned, women-owned, and general contractors. Through the WMMCA, you can develop business relationships, promote your products and services to area contractors, help strengthen the contractor community in West Michigan and benefit from collaboration with organizations in the larger business community.
Launched in 2016 as a new initiative of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, ELEVATE is an intensive, hands-on business program designed to accelerate the growth and development of sizable minority-owned businesses in West Michigan. Participants benefit from a robust system of support individualized to their specific business goals and needs – including business analysis and advice through direct consulting, peer roundtables, and a personal team of advisors.
Advantage Mechanical Refrigeration – Comstock Park
Jireh Metal Products – Grandville
Primera Plastics – Zeeland
Supermercado Mexico – Wyoming
Tolman’s Wholesale Meats – Hudsonville
“These are the people and organizations who are at the core of a remarkable business community by the ways they innovate, collaborate, grow and impact others, helping to create a thriving city,” said Rick Baker, GRACC President & CEO.
EPIC honors the best of the business community each year. Nominated and judged by their peers, the Chamber is proud to honor and celebrate businesses contributing to the overall success of the region.
Congratulations to the 2016 EPIC recipients:
Applied Imaging – Excellence in Business
Sluggers Sports Academy, LLC – Young Entrepreneur of the Year
i-Chiro Clinics – Small Business of the Year
Kennari Consulting – Woman-Owned Business of the Year
El Granjero Mexican Grill – Minority-Owned Business of the Year
Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative – Non-Profit of the Year
Honor Construction – Veteran-Owned Business of the Year
The Family Business Alliance draws the best from local and national research, expertise, and best practices for the benefit of the West Michigan family-owned business community.
The Grand Rapids Chamber is proud to support the unique work of the Family Business Alliance as it addresses the distinct challenges faced by family businesses through unique workshops, one-to-one assistance and mentorship, NextGen Peer Groups, and networking opportunities.
The Family Business Alliance is committed to “helping family businesses succeed generation to generation.”
“I am continually amazed at the collective insight that is shared in our groups and feel that the CEO & Management Roundtable program is one of the Grand Rapids business community’s hidden gems.”
– Chris Atwater, President Michigan Commercial Space Advisors/ ITRA Global
In 2016, 175 people participated in CEO/Owner, Leadership, Marketing, Sales, and Finance Roundtables.
These roundtables give business leaders feedback on some of the tough business issues you are facing and can speak from their own personal experience in similar business situations.
Meet. Build. Grow.
Networking is the name of the game at the Chamber’s monthly Business Exchange Luncheons.
Ranked as the Chamber’s #1 networking event, our monthly Business Exchange Luncheon is designed to facilitate conversations and connections among Chamber members.
Bring plenty of business cards and get ready to make lots of new connections. Over 1,220 people participated in 2016.
The Chamber’s ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates one of the most important moments for a business. In 2016 the Chamber celebrated 87 new business openings, relocations, expansions, and important milestones.
See where the Chamber Ambassadors and the BIG SCISSORS have been recently!
As a Chamber member, you belong to one of the most visible influential groups in business, ready and willing to help your business grow. Whether that means advancing policies for tomorrow or helping cut through red tape with different government agencies today, we’re here to work for you. As a member, you have a seat at the table: the Chamber helps to craft the priorities of the West Michigan business community — and acts as your advocate to local, regional, state, and national officials.
The Chamber conducts an annual survey of its membership to better understand the issues West Michigan businesses are facing. Nearly 600 members responded to develop the 2016 survey with more than two-thirds of the responses from small and medium sized businesses. This information, along with active public policy committees, directly supports the Chamber’s member-driven advocacy plan and provides the policy team the tools to advocate on behalf of your business.
In 2016, we launched the popular Issue Summit series. We brought members access to information and experts, delving into issues, solutions, and advocacy that will drive us as we create a top-of-mind region. The Issue Summit focused on:
Transportation and mobility, highlighting the trends in driverless technology, logistics, transportation flexibility.
The Flint water crisis and Detroit public schools.
A connected West Michigan exploring how can our community become more competitive.
Housing for a growing city. A conversation around housing stock and affordability.
Health care and the trends and changes that can help members cultivate a healthy workforce and bottom line.
At the Chamber, you have your own lobbyists that will work for you and help your business. Whether that means advancing policies or helping cut through red tape with different government agencies, we’re here to work for you. As a member, you have a seat at the table to help craft the priorities of the West Michigan business community.
We back up our words with action! Over the year we have successfully passed a number of reforms to improve the business climate in Grand Rapids and across Michigan.
Silent Observer gathers information regarding serious crimes that affect the safety and well being of our neighborhoods and community. With Silent Observer, neighbors can anonymously submit tips about crimes such as arson, drugs, burglary, theft, vandalism and people with outstanding warrants.
Helping elect highly qualified and pro-growth leaders to office is critical to continuing Michigan’s comeback. The Chamber PAC provides the West Michigan business community an opportunity to select the best to represent West Michigan. The Chamber PAC, the Friends of West Michigan Business, had an extremely successful election year that included key victories in critical races. In 2016, the Chamber PAC had a 93% success rate for federal, state and local offices. Chamber staff also hit the ground in many races, knocking doors to help endorsed candidates cross the finish line. Also, the Chamber-supported Kent County 9-1-1 public safety dispatch ballot question passed with more than 70% YES votes.
In principle and practice, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce believes in the value and power of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
In support of these values, we held a Diversity and Inclusion Forum in November. More than 130 professionals attended and participated in sessions focused on managing unconscious bias, challenging assumptions, and self-reflection.
Without diversity, equity, and inclusion, we limit our talent, resources and the business opportunities necessary to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
In an effort to better serve and represent our membership, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber is committed to actively seeking a diverse and inclusive board, workforce, membership, business environment and community.
Facing Racism is the area’s leading program for uncovering racism and understanding its impact on individuals and the workplace.
Because racism is a powerful force in our lives and community, the Institute challenges participants of all backgrounds to be part of an equally powerful dialogue. We provide the safe space and neutral guidance needed to help that dialogue emerge.
Through presentations and exercises, participants from all backgrounds engage and build a shared understanding of racism together. After facing racism and its impact on individuals, businesses, and our community, participants discover tools to create an inclusive workplace and community.
Leadership Advantage 10 Year Anniversary
Leadership Advantage maximizes the leadership potential of professionals from business, nonprofits and government with an 8 session program that emphasizes the unique skills individual leaders possess. The truly unique aspect of Leadership Advantage is its focus on a group leadership coaching experience which incorporates substantial opportunities for meaningful self-reflection, peer coaching, and honest conversation.
The program’s assortment of national-caliber guest presenters offers content valuable at home, at work and in the community in eight convenient half-day sessions. Fourteen people attended Leadership Advantage in 2016 and participants have cited Leadership Advantage as the most important professional development program they have ever completed.
The 2017 session is currently enrolling.
Leadership Grand Rapids
Leadership Grand Rapids (LGR) is a nine-month community leadership program committed to enhancing and connecting leaders from business, non-profits and government. For last 30 years, this unique program has empowered participants with a comprehensive understanding of our community’s challenges and opportunities, providing a broader knowledge of the community and their role as community trustees.
The 2016-2017 LGR class represents 44 individuals from across industries and sectors. Participants gain a deeper understanding of effective leadership and how they can help build a community of uncommon greatness.
A highly talented and diverse workforce is the key to new ideas and forward motion. As a champion for an inclusive and magnetic community, the Chamber is proud to provide OutPro, an LGBT professionals group as a resource to employers and employees.
The OutPro group promotes a welcoming culture in the West Michigan community for LGBT professionals, and it offers opportunities for both social and professional networking through monthly gatherings at various venues throughout the city. OutPro gatherings are attended by professionals at all career levels, representing a diversity of corporations, small businesses, and public and non-profit organizations.
In 2016, OutPro held 13 events with more than 1200 attendees. Events included opportunities to connect and advance through networking, community events, arts events, and educational programming.
Black Women Connect GR
“I have been waiting for a group like this in Grand Rapids all my life! This is truly a way to put GR front and center. Bravo to the Chamber staff for a very productive and energizing gathering.”
— Melvene Tardy, Partners for a Racism-Free Community
Black Women Connect GR is an affinity group of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce which offers opportunities for African American women to meet with each other and develop meaningful relationships both professionally and personally.
Black Women Connect GR events are designed for professional black women at all career levels, representing a diversity of corporations, small businesses, and public and non-profit organizations.
Black Women Connect events in 2016 drew more than 400 attendees to programs that focused on leadership, building skills to advance in the workplace, and opportunities to engage and deepen relationships.
Specifically for the next generation of women leaders in the workplace, Leading Edge helps you create a successful path forward by teaching practical concepts and offering a hands-on practicum in the leadership skills you need.
In the program’s first year, 40 women expanded leadership skills and propelled their careers forward through the program’s five sessions. Participants cite Leading Edge with helping them cultivate their leadership style.
If you are a professional with a passion for growing professionally and becoming actively engaged in the community, then the Emerging Leaders Series offers the ideal setting to expand your horizons.
Make Grand Rapids your classroom with five half-day sessions that combine tours, speakers, activities, and inter-disciplinary discussions that build community connections, leadership skills, and insight into issues facing Grand Rapids. Plus, you’ll discover new opportunities to engage in the community.
In 2016, 34 people grew personally and professionally by increasing their engagement with our community and developing strong connections through participation in the Emerging Leaders Series.
ATHENA Grand Rapids
ATHENA Leadership Forums foster and support the development of strong female leaders in our community. Over the course of five forums, more than 500 attendees explored the ATHENA tenets of Courageous Acts, Fierce Advocacy, Authentic Self, Learning, and Giving Back in 2016.
Our annual ATHENA Awards Celebration is held each year to recognize and celebrate women and the remarkable leaders fostering avenues of opportunity and professional growth for future generations.
The ATHENA Awards Program and ATHENA Young Professional Award are founded on the ATHENA Leadership Model® from ATHENA International. In addition to the awards, scholarships are granted to women over the age of thirty who are pursuing their degree.