Erin Elaine Casey
Erin Elaine Casey, Writer. Editor. Writing coach.

I’m a solo entrepreneur and I’ve been a Halifax Chamber member for a couple of years. I always think very carefully about which organizations I can afford to belong to, and I need to know I’m getting my money’s worth.

That’s why I’m happy to see the Halifax Chamber trying something new, and why over the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about it.

What’s new, you ask? Well, one thing in particular: Grow Halifax. It’s an initiative to bring businesses closer to the resources they need to grow, including information about supply chain and export opportunities, collaborations, education and training, innovative events, strategic networking and connections, and a stronger and more diverse business community.

It’s a work in progress, and that’s a good thing. New President and CEO Patrick Sullivan described it to me this way: “We’re listening to our members now; we want to get more information. I’m a marketing guy and have been for most of my career. I think of our members as customers. We need to satisfy them. What we can provide for them is learning or collaboration to grow their business. That’s what the Chamber is in the business of doing.”

You have an opportunity here to shape your Chamber. Tell Patrick and his team what you need and they’ll fix you up. (Fill out this needs assessment. I did. It takes three minutes.) This is your chance to weigh in. We’re all in this together.

Members WANT to help each other. Sometimes they just need a little structure to do it in, and on Thursday, October 13th the Chamber’s first-ever Entrepreneurs Rally served as the launch pad for Grow Halifax.

Let’s face it – networking events can feel a little, well, forced. More like work than fun. But this was different. It was like a really nice cocktail party, with lots of time to yack, snack, and connect. Four entrepreneurs at different stages of business development briefly took to the stage to tell 200 of us what they need help with. Then we all circulated, giving advice, offering introductions, and leaving notes.

In other words, making connections. Not just contacts, but connections. It was fun, it was energizing, and four fledging companies walked away with wisdom you probably couldn’t buy for a million bucks. I’ll be telling you all about those companies – and the sponsors, collaborators, and supporters behind Grow Halifax – in next week’s post.

People loved the event, and I have the taped interviews to prove it. It was fresh, it was energetic, and A LOT of you told me how nice it was to see so many… ahem… younger faces. (Not that you don’t love the usual faces – you do!)

Here’s the thing: When people have fun together, good things happen. Creativity happens. Business happens.

If you’re wondering what Grow Halifax has the potential to do for you, listen to Riley Giffen, co-founder and co-owner of Coldstream Clear Distillery, one of the entrepreneurs who presented at the Rally: “It was really helpful to see how many people are standing behind you, and encouraging you. They want to see you succeed. It’s so encouraging even though you’re on a mission yourself every single day, to know that they want to see that happen.”

The Chamber is what we make it, and Grow Halifax is an opportunity to make it work better for all of us. 

Erin Elaine Casey is a writer, editor, and writing coach living and working in Halifax. Her passion for clear communication helps you refine your message and connect with your customers and clients online, on paper, and in person.