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January 22, 2013

New commerce leaders promise fresh engagements

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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New commerce leaders promise fresh engagements
West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzanne Levine stands in front of the construction of a commercial and office building on the northwest corner of the Orchard Lake and Maple intersection. The chamber is looking to reach out to businesses in 2013, as township officials take a closer look at the downtown overlay district.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — The Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce is not experiencing business as usual, according to a couple of its leaders.

The chamber’s executive dir-ector, Suzanne Levine, has led the group since August. She wants 2013 to be a year devoted to making the chamber more engaged with its business members.

“We’re very, very proactive in helping businesses connect with the others in the community,” she said.

The chamber, established in 1973, serves the West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake areas. However, its membership transcends those boundaries and has drawn more than 200 businesses in southeastern Michigan, with membership as far away as Ann Arbor.

Levine said many outside businesses like the idea of being connected to the West Bloomfield region. “We know the demographics — we know that this particular community is very invested in education and medical care,” she said.

She said that, while she is not privy to knowing all the new businesses coming to the West Bloomfield area in 2013, she is excited about the plans to build a new office and commercial building on the corner of Orchard Lake and Maple roads.

“I saw part of the plan. It looked really beautiful,” she said. “I think the township is working really hard to have something that is welcoming, and we’ll draw more visitors and really enhance the value of our community.”

The changes are coming at a time when the township Board of Trustees is taking a closer look at community development issues. In December, the board voted to create a downtown overlay district taskforce to study the area along Orchard Lake Road around 14 Mile and Maple roads. The task force may return later with proposed ordinance changes.

Levine said the chamber is hopeful that it can work with the township to give visitors value when they enter. “We want to make a significant impression about what we’re all about,” she said.

Besides Levine’s recent arrival, the chamber recently accepted a new executive board of officers Jan. 11. The new board includes Kelly Taylor of Orchard Mall, Carla Schwartz of Beaumont Health System, Romy Shubitowski of DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, Steven Tapper of Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Clara Bohrer of the West Bloomfield Township Public Library and John Edwards of LaFontaine Automotive Group.

The chamber’s new president, Taylor, also manages Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield. Levine called the board transition flawless and predicted a successful year ahead.

“I’m really excited to be working with Kelly because even though she’s young, she’s very dynamic, and she has a lot of really great ideas on how to help the chamber move forward,” Levine said.

Taylor said she looks forward to taking advantage of the chamber’s networking events, such as its annual awards dinner, holiday party and grub crawl. “I have been a member since 2008, and for this year, I think I would like to see the chamber continue to grow our membership,” she said.

Learn more about the Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce at www.westbloomfieldchamber.com or by calling (248) 626-3636.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.