Small businesses play crucial community role

CI mentioned in my last article about the varied memberships in the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce. I started the series focusing on Service Clubs and my admiration for those called on to serve outside of their normal duties. This week I’d like to emphasize small businesses and the effect they have on our community.

From my last confession I admitted that I will google almost everything. I also have to admit that I was unwillingly pulled to this; as a former literature major I still miss the smell of the old dewey decimal card catalogue system in the library. After adjusting with a steep learning curve, I have come to the opinion that there is something nice about having the answers at my fingertips, especially for research.

As amazing as technology has been for us, especially living in a rural area, there is one thing that it cannot do. I spend a great deal with my computer or my smart phone, but neither has ever smiled at me when I turned it on or said ‘Thank you for using me’ when I shut it down. When I’m having a technical issue, it offers no understanding as I poke it harder with my fingers trying to get it to work. And in the end, what I do on the computer does not help the livelihood of my neighbor or my community.

Sometimes it’s difficult to unplug – to understand that our technology should be a tool, not a crutch. It’s also hard, as a small business, to compete with online businesses and get your message out about what you have available. Some small businesses may not have a web-presence and or even know where to start- that’s where we can help. Chamber members are provided a web-presence from If you don’t have a website, this is a perfect opportunity to get one, if you do- you can link our directory to your page.

This is also connected to the GINCC Mobile Directory app that we have just completed. Our e-blasts and facebook pages can help raise online awareness for what your business has to offer. We can help bring your business to the fingertips of others. Get you online, so we can get customers in your door.

The character of a local community is often defined by small businesses. I think the character of our community is exceptional- I was lucky enough to witness this at the GINCC table during last week’s Open House on Iron Street. Over 130 people came out to support the small businesses in Downtown Negaunee- and they LOVED what they found. The combination of Midtown Bakery, Hanna’s Tea Times and Grand Effex Salon was a match made in heaven. Working with the antique stores to stay open late was a great addition for the attendees to ‘make a night of it’. Open House on Iron Street was a scavenger hunt to find the treasures in downtown Negaunee.

During October we have two other Business AfterHours featuring local businesses. On Oct.16, you will have a chance to meet the owners and see everything that Superior Design has to offer our community. Oct. 28 will feature the ‘Spooktactular” Business After Hours at the Old Gossard Building/Pioneer Square Mall. Business AfterHours are open and free to the public. They provide an opportunity for you unplug and get to know our local businesses, what they have to offer and how they can help you.

Editor’s note: Kori Tossava is director of the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce.