With the lead responsibility for recruiting new industry to Floyd County being shifted to the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority, the Rome Floyd Chamber is returning to its roots — being all about small business.

The chamber has returned to putting greater emphasis in its position as the leading advocate for the small business community.

Under the guidance of Michele Rikard at Hardy Realty, the chamber’s Small Business Action Council meets monthly to provide networking opportunities and learn more about best practices from peers across Rome and Floyd County.

“It’s a great way for small businesses to leverage resources with one another,” Rikard said. “Everyone is very open and shares ideas.”

The SBAC isn’t worried about formalities and when the group meets on the second Tuesday of each month. The meetings are open to any chamber members and attendance varies from one month to the next based on the topic for the meeting.

Last month, Mike Schieffer relayed the story behind the start-up of Lumina Coffee Shop at Braves Boulevard and Georgia Loop 1. Schieffer was a long time Starbucks executive and most recently has been affiliated with the WinShape Center at Berry College.

When it comes to start-ups, the chamber has an active partner in the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center in Rome.

“The leadership and vision of the chamber has always complimented the vision and the mission of the UGA SBDC and we look forward to many more years of collaboration,” said Richard Montanaro, area director and of the UGA SBDC in a press release.

Earlier this month, Berry College Director of Employer Development Mark Kozera spoke with the group about the student work program, long a hallmark of Berry College.

“Small business owners are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and are often leaders in our community. Being afforded the chance to meet with them and talk about your program, service or product is a great opportunity,” Kozera said.

“Berry College’s student work program is a valued resource for quality workers in Rome and Floyd County; at the same time, we are promoting these young people to become further invested in the community,” said Elaine Abercrombie, the chamber’s chair and manager at Greene’s Jewelers.

One of the highlights of each years activity run through the Small Business Action Council is the annual Chamber Business Expo at The Forum River Center.

This year the expo is scheduled for November 7 and 8. For the last several years, the expo has sold out of booth space early in the fall and the event generally draws close to a hundred local businesses.

“It’s great exposure to the community, both business to business and business to consumer,” Rikard said. The Friday expo session is set aside for business to business connections while the Saturday session is open to the public.

Funds generated by the expo are used to help promote the Shop Rome campaign during the holiday shopping season.

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