In the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce is 800 members strong and growing as it promotes a dynamic business community through leadership, educational programs and public policy advocacy.
The chamber, which was founded in 1916, helps businesses network, learn and take advantage of the many opportunities to thrive in this scenic area that is just a couple hours from Richmond, Virginia, and Washington D.C.
“The area combines the best of both worlds: a vibrant urban life in the city of Harrisonburg and a peaceful rural life in Rockingham County,” said Frank Tamberrino, chamber president and CEO.
The chamber is looking forward to a bright future as it embarks on its second century of helping businesses succeed. Whether you are looking to start a new business or expand an existing one, the chamber offers a comprehensive array of programs and events geared to answering the needs of its business community.
One of its programs, Leadership Harrisonburg-Rockingham (LHR), educates current and aspiring leaders about all aspects of the community, from its rich history to its vibrant present and future. LHR covers such important topics as education and health systems, local government, leading industries, arts and cultural opportunities, recreation, teambuilding and leadership skills. The program was founded in 1979, and helps participants enhance their leadership skills and increase community awareness while connecting with other professionals and building long-lasting relationships.
Another program, Building Optimal Leaders by Design, or BOLD, is an advanced leadership program that pairs mentors and mentees over a two-year period. BOLD offers mentees the opportunity to interact and work with preeminent leaders in the community while mentors have the chance to help future community leaders reach their potential.
Connections, a combination of business expo and educational workshops, is held annually. It enables members to bring exposure to their businesses while also learning about marketing trends, human resources, technology and networking skills. Breakout sessions provide in-depth knowledge in smaller groups. The business expo provides a high-energy, fun environment for members to make even more contacts, develop leads, and get acquainted with other businesses.
The chamber’s other popular events range from monthly business networking events to the chamber’s annual banquet, which brings together a crowd of more than 500 and is a high point of the year. The chamber also offers periodic training programs and issues-based forums to develop leaders and convey information that educates and influences decisions for the benefit of businesses in the community.
While much has changed in the more than 100 years of the chamber’s existence, some things remain the same. Making connections and exchanging information are inherent parts of all of the chamber’s programs.
“For some people the immediate value of the chamber is in getting leads and doing business,” Tamberrino said. “But the real value should be seen as the ability to make connections that you otherwise might not have made and to use those connections and knowledge gained to make a difference in your work and in the community.”