The Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce is creating what it calls “collectives” – business people with specialized needs who gather to learn and share pertinent information as well as connect with like-minded peers and the community.
Bethany Bland, President and CEO of the Chamber, said the collectives are a response to a trend she and other staff were seeing.
“We kept having people come in and saying, ‘I’m looking for blank,’ she said. “And a lot of times ‘blank’ fell into the category of they were trying to learn something new, or they wanted to meet new people. And they kept saying they were really struggling to find that place where [they] can do that.”
Bland said many of them weren’t being served by the traditional Chamber offerings. So, she and her team came up with the collectives.
Bland said a Young Professionals Collective started last fall drew an enthusiastic reception. She said smaller communities like Rock Falls are always looking for ways to keep young entrepreneurs from leaving, and she thinks the collective will help provide them with reasons to stay.
A Home Based Business group kicks off next Tuesday. Home-based businesses can range from part-time hobbies or direct sales on the side, to full-time operations. But Bland said they share a problem: a lack of connection to the usual business networks.
“Sometimes they’re missing some really awesome opportunities to help their business grow,” she said. “So we wanted to get these people together, and provide an opportunity to learn, and then also meet other like-minded business people and share some ideas back and forth that way as well.”
Coming up are marketing and nonprofit collectives to help participants deal with the issues particular to those parts of the business community.
Bland said she thinks the concept would work well for other communities.