FAIRBORN — The Fairborn Chamber of Commerce is coming back online after shutting down for nearly a year. The first Chamber Chat since last August is at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 10. As small businesses look to recover from the pandemic, the organization is looking to offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect.
Chamber Chats are a 35-year-old tradition. The first took place in 1986. Businesses who are chamber members volunteer to host, and provide the venue, food, and beverages.
“Chamber chats are an opportunity to get back together, share their hurdles, share their accomplishments, and get back into the networking game,” said Paul Newman Jr., executive director of the chamber. “We’ve all been inside for a year, its nice to reconnect.”
The pandemic forced many chamber functions, including fund-raisers, to shut down in 2020 and early 2021.
“The pandemic cost us a lot with respect to relationships with chamber members,” said Director Emeritus Paul Newman Sr. “There was also a financial impact, as we lost the car show, and the Halloween festival.”
In January, the chamber elected Jackie Brockman as its new president, replacing Brian Lampton, who was elected as a state representative in November.
As the economy across the country struggles to bounce back, small businesses such as the ones the chamber serves are having a more difficult time staying afloat compared to corporations. According to the Dayton Business Journal, a survey of more than 3,000 small businesses indicated 35 percent may not survive the summer.
“Small business has taken an incredible hit, and are not bouncing back as fast as we had hoped,” Paul Jr. said. “I hate to be pessimistic, because I’ve been consistently surprised throughout the pandemic by the resiliency of local business.”
The Newmans argue that, for this reason chambers of commerce are more important than ever.
“The events are also an opportunity for newer business owners, some of which opened during the pandemic, to see what the chamber is all about,” Paul Jr. said. “I’m optimistic about the businesses that are coming to downtown Fairborn, particularly the lack of vacancy. Downtown Fairborn is primed for small business growth.”