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How to stay relevant after more than 400 years

How to stay relevant after more than 400 years

The first chamber of commerce was founded in 1599 in Marseille, France. After more than 400 years, how does a local chamber of commerce stay relevant, especially in these unprecedented times?  

The Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce looked at all our events to see how we could pivot to a virtual world. Having hosted monthly virtual Chamber Chat webinars for the past four years, the Chamber was experienced with online connections. Our first “pandemic” webinar March 17 discussed financial planning, since the stock market had dropped 3,000 points and briefly shut down, hitting the worst day since 1987.  

Two days later, Florida State Rep. Randy Fine was a guest discussing how Florida businesses needed to prepare for the pandemic. Fifteen webinars later, we continue to bring important information to our members, which also is available to the community at large on our Facebook page.  

Immediately, the four local chambers banded together to form the Brevard Community COVID-19 Response Team with local organizations — including weVenture, SBDC, EDC, TDC and others — to provide training and resources to a greater number of local businesses. Our goal: keep local businesses updated on available resources for their continuance during the pandemic. We presented training on loans, leading through crisis, self-care, how to pivot to reach clients, and marketing when traditional methods are not possible.

Pivoting early meant leads groups, monthly luncheons and networking immediately went online so we didn’t miss a beat. Providing leadership, information and resources for our members was critical. 

Because the chambers work with various community institutions, we are a one-stop-shop to cultivate information. It’s difficult for entrepreneurs to attend all the meetings, read all the articles, participate in personal and professional development and know about all resources available. Chambers also advocate for business interests at local, state and national levels.  

The Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce has been a trendsetter for the past five years, providing unique and state-of-the-art topics to keep entrepreneurs informed on current trends.

  • We continue our innovation, bringing a world-class drone racing event to Brevard, Oct. 3-4, called Mayhem: From Dawn till Dusk, where professional racers compete for an unofficial longest drone race world record. 
  • We rescheduled the Lifestyle, Health & Wellness event from March to a virtual and in-person event Sept. 21-25. Relevant topics will be covered each day by specialists, and we will have meet-ups to exercise during the week. It’s important for business owners and their employees to take care of their health in order to have a healthy business. 
  • This follows our virtual Disaster Recovery Expo Week in July, that covered disaster planning, cyber security, insurance, hurricanes and disaster mediation. It’s available to view on our Facebook page. 
  • Back2Business Week was a series of livestreams and videos featuring 21 area businesses and nonprofits who shared how they were adjusting in the pandemic. Our reach was over 50,000.


Nancy Peltonen serves as President/CEO with The Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on a committee for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, while always finding time to volunteer with local organizations and travel the world.


Read more articles in our Digital Magazine.


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