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SHIRLEY – With the uncertainty of the pandemic ironing itself out, the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce is seeing recent growth in membership, which coincides with job growth in the local economy. Some in the community might be looking to kick start that dream business as part of their New Years Resolution, or jump into a new career, luckily the chamber has both avenues covered with a slew of offerings.
Melissa Fetterhoff is entering her 22nd year at the chamber, and serves as the chamber’s president. Fetterhoff has seen growth in both chamber memberships the past few months, but just as importantly strong attendance at chamber events.
“After COVID was a little challenging getting people to get back to events,” Fetterhoff said. “And back to networking and getting out of their comfort Zoom. Things are turning around, and we just had a really great business after hours last night in Littleton and have some really great events on the calendar.”
So far, for just the month of January, eight new members have joined the chamber. It is a good mix of returning businesses, but also a strong contingent of new businesses. This was after two months of exceeding expectations to close out the 2023 calendar year.
The chamber offers solutions for businesses that are startups but also for businesses that have been operating for decades that are looking to make changes or investments in their businesses. The Nashoba Valley Chamber partners with the SCORE organization, based locally, which is a group of senior retired executives that volunteer their services to assist local businesses.
“For somebody thinking about starting a business, SCORE can talk about things like flushing out the idea of starting a business,” Fetterhoff said. “Looking at the region where you're trying to start a business, in doing all the preliminary work, the folks at SCORE can help with that. And then to develop a business plan, with business on the other side of things; maybe they’re looking to sell their business, SCORE can help them to set up their business to be the most successful.”
For those that are not looking to start a business, but want a new business opportunity, the chamber offers hiring events twice per year. The next event is right around the corner on March 26, and then another event follows in October/November.
The Tuesday March 26 event is at Devens Common Center, 31 Andrews Parkway at Devens. Career counseling is offered, professional headshots can be taken, and workshops are scheduled for the event. Some past workshops include salary negotiations and resume critiquing. The cost is free for job seekers and anyone, regardless of address, can attend.
“Since COVID the October hiring event had more of a buzz,” Fetterhoff said. “There were more job seekers, people that wanted to get back to work, and others who wanted to look at something different and start a new career. Businesses are hiring for sure, and there are a number of opportunities on our jobs board.”
The chamber maintains a jobs board on its website nvcoc.com for job seekings and local businesses looking to advertise job postings. The board changes on a daily basis, and can be found on the banner atop the home page.
February events at the chamber include a human resources roundtable (Feb 6), breakfast with the boss (Feb 7), HR-series finding talent that stays (Feb 13), chamber referral network (Feb 14), free small business counseling with SCORE (Feb 15), chamber referral network (Feb 28), and supplier diversity office workshop (Feb 29).
The chamber's membership incorporates 17 communities, from as far west as Townsend and Lunenburg over to the Littleton/Westford area and everything in between.
“We always love to have a conversation with people about their business,” Fetterhoff said. “And see if it’s a fit to get involved in the chamber. They don’t even have to be a member to get some of the benefits. We love having the opportunity to be able to connect with people.”