By Greg Ellison
(Sept. 10, 2020) The Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce is hoping to highlight the services it provides for community members and businesses during National Chamber of Commerce Week.
President/CEO Kerrie Bunting said the nationwide celebration this week serves as an outreach effort for chamber of commerce membership groups across the U.S.
“Right now, so many people are questioning, ‘Well, my money is really tight so why should I give you my money?’” she said. “What’s the chamber doing for my business [and] … for the community?”
Bunting said chamber of commerce entities help both in the long run.
“They support the entire community, because if businesses fall, communities are going to fall,” she said.
Chamber groups strive to support smart economic growth and connect potential customers with products and services, Bunting said.
“We’ve got businesses that need consumers and they sometimes need a conduit to reach those residents and visitors to the area,” she said.
Print publications are one tool employed by the Ocean Pines Chamber.
“Our annul business directory comes in handy for visitors, as well as residents,” she said.
When unexpected house repairs surface, such as a leaky roof, the Ocean Pines Chamber can provide unbiased guidance to find assistance and help consumers avoid a scenario where one disaster leads to another.
“We can provide you trusted local businesses that will get the job done,” she said.
The covid-19 pandemic, which has created financial hurdles for many industries, has proven especially challenging for chamber groups.
“We are a nonprofit 501c6, which means we are not eligible for a lot of the government assistance programs for covid,” she said. “We still have to keep our doors open so we can help everybody else keep their doors open.”
Bunting said the Ocean Pines Chamber has proven a valuable resource for a number of area businesses struggling to remain profitable during the ongoing pandemic.
“It has come in really handy for the smaller retailers, bars and restaurants because they don’t necessarily have a marketing person of marketing plan,” she said. “We help you get that message out to potential consumers.”
Bunting said the public often has little understanding of the how chamber groups function as a middleman between business and consumers.
“Through this covid we’ve really been able to expand the voice of so many of our mom-and-pop shops, which are the ones that are the foundation of our community,” she said. “As much chaos as 2020 has brought, I really think this is when chambers have shined.”