Small Business Advocate of the Year

Washington Chamber of Commerce

Tying the strength of a community to support of its small businesses

by Jonathan Wright
Washington Chamber of Commerce
Photography by Evan Temchin

The Washington Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1959, primarily as a way for the city’s businesses to work together to plan events for the community. More than 60 years later, today’s Washington Chamber looks much different. The massive tornado that hit the city in 2013 caused the organization to re-examine its structure and shift its focus toward aiding the business community. This served them well in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdown, as the Chamber worked to tie the community and its small businesses back together.Washington Chamber of Commerce

When businesses began to reopen last year, the Washington Chamber created a series of videos to highlight their excitement and ask consumers for their support. In October 2020, they organized the Taste of Washington event to assist struggling restaurants by featuring special menus for dine-in or pick-up and coordinating prize baskets to increase customer participation. As the pandemic’s challenges continued into 2021, the Chamber restructured its annual Good Neighbor Days festival from a single weeklong event to several smaller events throughout the summer. 

In addition, their annual awards highlight outstanding customer service by Washington merchants, honor local businesses that improve and beautify their properties, and acknowledge exceptional businesses for going above and beyond in their business dealings.

As Washington’s small business community still faces a long road of recovery from the pandemic, their Chamber is working hard to make the recovery process easier. “Small businesses are still here in 2021 because of all the people who have supported them throughout the last year, but that support can’t end,” declares Chevie Kriete, executive director. “Make sure you continue to support your favorite local businesses on a weekly and monthly basis. We can’t do this alone, but collectively we can accomplish great things—and ensure our small businesses are here for many years to come.” washingtoncoc.com PM

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