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Membership in a chamber of commerce has always been valuable for small and medium businesses. Now more than ever, however, it’s essential for companies to work together and support one another, and a chamber of commerce membership makes that possible.

The Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) is an association of 125 chambers of commerce across Northern Ohio that serve a network of over 40,000 businesses. These chambers work together to better benefit their members by offering advocacy, mentorship programs, savings programs, and much more.

“Being part of a dedicated group of businesses that are like-minded to your company is huge,” says Cindy Holzheimer, president and CEO of Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce. “It provides a sense community and a great opportunity to network.”

The Benefits of Joining a Chamber

A chamber of commerce isn’t a government entity. Rather, it’s a non-profit organization providing resources, connections, and a host of other benefits for local businesses. For instance, many chambers have mentorship programs, which are opportunities for experienced companies to mentor newer ones. The result is a strong partnership and mutual success, as well as a bridge to proper training and education.

Chambers of commerce also provide their member businesses with exposure. This can come in the form of advocacy programs, events, and Shop Local campaigns to attract customers and clients. What’s more, many chambers also post online directories of their members, helping customers find what they’re looking for while directing web traffic to member businesses.

The Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce specializes in high-quality cost savings programs. By partnering with various, well-established companies, NOACC offers its chamber members access to savings on things like group medical insurance discounts, business and workers’ compensation insurance, credit card and payroll processing, human resources services, energy bills, deliveries, and much more. “When business owners save money with these programs, it pretty much pays for their membership to their local chamber,” adds Holzheimer.

All partner organizations are thoroughly vetted by Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce. As a requirement, they must have been active members of a NOACC chamber for at least one year. This ensures that they understand the chamber’s importance and goals. Partners must also provide programs that are designed to benefit the chambers, members, and the partners themselves.

Support during COVID-19

Right now, chambers are playing a special role in supporting their members during the pandemic. They provide guidance and education, set up webinars, and help their members choose their next steps. It’s also doing what it can to make those next steps easier. For instance, a chamber of commerce might set up a Facebook page or website directory of restaurants that have switched to carry-out or delivery. Customers can then visit that page to quickly find out where they can get food safely, and initiatives like this are ongoing across all industries.

“Every business has had to find a way to move in new directions,” says Holzheimer, “and their chambers are here to help.”

Chambers of commerce even help businesses find employees if their laid-off workers can’t return to their old positions. This is possible due to their extensive networks that can be used to spread the word about open positions. In addition, chambers have been great sources of financial relief resources amid COVID-19 shutdowns. “In the first few months, when small businesses had to close, their chambers helped them connect with disaster relief funds and navigate different lending options,” adds Holzheimer.

Businesses can join today by consulting Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce’s map and directory. There, businesses can learn more about local chambers and their requirements.