Crofton Chamber of Commerce celebrates 13 years of service

NEIGHBORS

October 29, 2002|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN 1990, Marsha Perry threw a birthday party for the 1-year-old Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce with balloons, streamers and a birthday cake - it was a great way to celebrate. In fact, the party was so much fun that Perry made it into a tradition.

The tradition continued Friday evening as the Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 13th year with a party at the home of the former 33rd District delegate.

Local business people joined community leaders at the event, recognizing the organization's strong history of service to the business community.

Perry helped spearhead the establishment of the local chamber when she was serving as a delegate, representing the Crofton area in Annapolis.

In her legislative work, she saw how useful chambers of commerce could be as advocates for the business community.

The number of businesses in the Crofton area was growing by leaps and bounds. Yet no trade organization existed that had as its particular focus the needs of Crofton businesses.

The Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce met for the first time in the fall of 1989 at Crofton Country Club. Perry still laughs when she recalls that meeting.

More than 100 local business leaders attended and expressed interest in the new organization. A representative of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce who attended was amazed by the turnout.

In his experience, he told Perry, first meetings of local chambers usually attracted five to 10 people. A turnout of 100 people was astounding.

Clearly, Crofton was ready for a local chamber.

In the past 13 years, the group has grown to about 200 members.

Perry says the organization and its members have been active in a wide variety of areas, from development of the Route 3 corridor to landfill matters to education concerns.

On an individual level, members benefit from networking, sharing ideas to strengthen their businesses and by gaining a greater awareness of important developments in the area.

David Espie, a local businessman, says the chamber has been important to him "personally, socially and professionally."

The Crofton area, Espie said, has many more small businesses than most people realize. These businesses are an "important part of the fabric of the community," he said.

Espie, like many other chamber members, is active in such service organizations as Kiwanis Club. For him, the chamber also serves the community.

Robert Johnston, a local real estate agent, agreed. "My whole involvement with the community grew out of the chamber," he said.

Through chamber meetings, Johnston became aware of and involved in a variety of issues. He has worked on several projects for the county executive and serves on an advisory board for Anne Arundel Community College.

For more than a year, Johnston worked with a group of volunteers to draw up a plan for repair and maintenance of schools. Because of their work, Anne Arundel County received a $60 million grant. It was one of two jurisdictions in the state to receive such funding.

Johnston said that networking with other local business people at chamber functions has been vital to the growth of his firm. Dina Pilcher, owner of Consumer Advantage magazine, concurred. In her business, meeting with owners of area firms is critical, and the chamber has been a great place to do that, she said.

Mary Kay Armour, a consultant and owner of the Cigar Company, said she especially appreciates the opportunity to attend chamber events where she finds "people to bounce ideas off."

For information about the Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce: 410-721-9131.

Coffeehouse

High school students are invited to a coffeehouse from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday at St. Bernadette Church hall in Severn. Live local bands will be featured. The cost of admission is $3 plus the donation of a canned food item.

Information: 410-721-5770.

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