January often brings about a quiet time to reflect upon the previous year, both personally and professionally. And for the Chamber this past year, building upon prior years, we have achieved historic milestones... all of which we are very proud, and happy to highlight a few our successful programs and achievements.

The Fairfield Chamber continues to work closely with the Town to help expand Economic Development by partnering and providing additional support for new Town programs, initiatives and marketing opportunities. Just recently, The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce quickly came forward to support the Town on a new initiative titled: “Fairfield County Five”. This is a first of its kind regional initiative focused on attracting new businesses to CT, and to Fairfield County specifically. The Town of Fairfield is a leader in this movement, and the Fairfield Chamber was the first Fairfield County Chamber to sponsor this initiative, as we understood immediately, the importance of supporting not only the Town of Fairfield, but the initiative as a whole.

On the local level, the Chamber partners with, and supports the Town, on a variety of community events: Spring and Holiday Shop & Strolls, July Sidewalk Sale Days, November Small Business Saturday, and Restaurant week. These events are held annually, to help attract more people to our business community, with the goal of showcasing the variety of stores/restaurants/merchants/services in Town, and therefore, help increase sales throughout the year.

As a primary goal, the Chamber continues to expand its member benefits each year. In addition to monthly networking events, the Chamber strongly believes that “educational programs” are extremely important to the business community. We want to educate and impart knowledge, to help business owners be better prepared to make informed business decisions. For example, we’ve held workshops on:

• Emergency Preparedness for the Business Community.. presented by Fairfield Police & Fire Departments.

• State Legislative Wrap-Up Panel Discussions … presented by our local legislators: Tony Hwang, Laura Devlin, Brenda Kupchick and Cristin McCarthy Vahey.

• Economic Outlook sessions (Global, State, Local trends) … presented by John Traynor/CIO People’s United Bank and First Selectman, Michael Tetreau.

• CEO Series, inspirational and motivational talks by those who made it to the top … step-by-step.

• Professional Development: skill development, the building blocks to achieve success.

• Evenings of Wellness: Health topics to help employees stay healthy.

The Chamber has achieved a variety of historic milestones over the past few years:

• 101 new members last year, now totaling 353 Chamber members.

• Events have grown from 10 to 30 annually.

• 150 people have joined the Chamber’s Fairfield Emerging Leaders Organization (FELO), establishing standards of excellence and a new model for success.

• FELO has awarded $7,000 in high school scholarships over the last 3 years.

In closing, we look at achievements as benefits … each one designed for a positive experience. And as the Chamber enters a new year, we look forward to continued growth, providing our membership with the many resources and tools they need, to help sustain and grow their business in 2018!

Beverly A. Balaz is the President of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.