Op-Ed: New president looks to strengthen chamber’s impact in Milford

Michael Moses

Michael Moses

Contributed photo

This is my first column in The Milford Mirror as the new president of the Milford Regional Chamber — an opportunity I am thrilled and honored to have.

I bring a unique background to this role having spent most of my career as a newspaper publisher, however, my years of board service for multiple non-profits, including arts organizations, service organizations, and chambers, dovetails nicely with the challenges I am sure to face.

Professional maturity offers an interesting perspective — you emerge from college thinking you know everything — and 30 years later — you understand you knew very little. So, what have I learned? I learned that a smart team, driven by innovation and opportunity, is far more valuable than any one person. To that end, I will be focused on helping us all make the Milford Regional Chamber best in class, become a more powerful voice for all businesses in this region, while having some fun along the way.

My baseline objectives as Chamber president are to retain the existing membership by ensuring we offer products and services that assist local businesses; gain members in sectors that are either not represented, or where there is currently very little representation; and, finally, to work with the city, companion organizations, and our surrounding communities to ensure we preserve the vibrancy of this dynamic coastal region. I will meet this moment with the innovation, collaboration, respect, and kindness it requires.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't note the impact the current pandemic has unfurled on our business community. Despite that pain, the pandemic has also required us to accelerate inevitable changes to how we do business — which ultimately will provide a bridge to future success.

That success will be driven from what I view as special features of Milford: From the easily accessible retail and dining destinations, hyper-local business base, vibrant cultural opportunities, nearly 20 miles of shoreline, mixed-use developments, a strong sense of identity, and substantial green spaces.

The leadership of a chamber of commerce can present unique challenges, especially in a community as rich in diverse businesses as Milford but my background in entrepreneurship, business development, and marketing will enable me to shape and focus perceptions about what a chamber can be.

In a past life, I owned and operated a small retail outlet, so when it comes to understanding the day-to-day challenges, and opportunities of the small-business owner, I can relate — and bring experience that may benefit them in productive ways.

The health of the business climate and the health of the community are one and the chamber reflects that intertwined community. A healthy chamber will bring people and organizations together, driving innovation, collaboration, and anything that moves our economy and community forward. Our go forward plan will focus on tourism, arts and culture, outdoor recreation, and highlighting our locally owned businesses.

Ultimately, I would like to see our chamber transform from being just a membership organization to more of a partnership organization — getting businesses to move from being just dues-paying members to becoming more engaged with the chamber and the community.

When a new business comes into the community, we should make sure the chamber is partnering with them, and that they’re engaged with the chamber. Committee work is essential to that goal, encouraging members to participate in committees that help form much of the chamber’s direction — a creative, diverse mix of minds adds a point of view that’s unique, and when we come together, we’re all better for it — and collectively, we will drive a thriving economy and thriving community.

To help drive that thriving economy and community, the MRCC has launched a new program designed to increase and keep consumer spending dollars local with “I Love Local,” a hyper-local universal gift card which can be used at dozens of local businesses.

Each year, thousands of dollars in gift cards will be sold for use at any of our participating businesses, keeping valuable consumer dollars local. Members of the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce, along with the members of other regional based business organizations, can opt-in to this amazing program by simply emailing Simon (smcdonald@milfordct.com) or Maggie (mborer@milfordct.com).

Michael Moses is president of the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce.