Today’s stop on Scott’s Cambridge listening tour: Greg Durocher, President/CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce!
The Chamber aims to create prosperous businesses in Cambridge, and offers events, talks, and networking opportunities for local business owners to connect, learn, and thrive.
Cambridge won’t succeed unless its businesses do, and supporting local business is a non-partisan issue. One of my very first ‘Listening Tours’ was with small business owners, and can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/HamiltonCbridge/posts/309527459963847:0?__tn__=K-R )
Below is some of my discussion with Greg Durocher. Thank you for making the time to chat with me Greg!
1) Greg, tell me about the Chamber.
– Well, the first ‘Chamber’ was founded in 1599 in Marseille, France, to assist government in developing trade and business relations to build their local economies up. Today, people think that all we do is work for ‘business’, but that’s not true. We’re not a lobby group. We’re a community organization, in that we focus on balancing social well-being with wealth generation. To have a strong social fabric today, we need a strong economy too. So, we try to create an atmosphere in Cambridge where successful businesses can develop and prosper. Our members are local businesses, but our end goal’s about creating a successful and sustainable community.
2) What are the biggest issues affecting Cambridge?
– There’s the opioid crisis. The hospital and its renovations. Education, transportation… There are all very important issues. However, for me, it boils down to the quote that Bill Clinton’s old advisor, James Carville, had on his desk: “It’s the economy, stupid!” And I think that many of the issues I listed above depend on a strong economy. Look at something like standards of living: if it’s high, it’s because the economy’s strong. Social reforms build upon economic strength.
3) How’s the economy of Cambridge looking?
– Great! Manufacturers are hiring and businesses are expanding. Looking forward, it would be great if we could tap into local youth to say “Get a trade background, because they’re in need!” and the demand is growing. In fact, today we see more women entering trades, which points towards our society and Cambridge becoming more accepting of gender, race, and sexual orientations.
4) What will help our small ‘main street’ businesses in the Cambridge cores succeed?
– The fact that we have 4 distinct cores is something to be celebrated! #shoplocal is a great way for their services and prices to be recognized. Shopping local in our cores is the best thing we can do. It keeps money flowing within the local community. For example, if $100 is spent here by a tourist or visitor, it ripples outwards to add about $1000 net to our community after moving through different chains, hands, and businesses.
5) Any advice for anyone out there wanting to start their own small business?
– Come and see us! Or, come and see us soon at 96 Grand Ave., where we’re very excited to announce the opening of a new ‘Entrepreneur Institute’ that we’re doing in partnership with ‘Grand Innovations.’ From office space, to entrepreneurial training programs, to sharing wisdom and knowledge about growing one’s own business, we’ll be fostering 40 new start-ups that we can work with and grow with, locally.
6) What’s your message to the people of Cambridge?
– Try to look on the positive side of everything. Even difficult issues like opioids and homelessness. Try to walk the path that others have to tread, to understand why a person might think or act differently. I’m an optimist. Looking to the future, we must think about what investments can bring our community. For instance, the Old Library’s Idea Exchange – the digital library. Already, it’s an iconic and award-winning piece of architecture. The value it’s going to bring Cambridge for decades is far greater than its expense.
So, stay positive! God didn’t put us on Earth to see through each other, but to see each other through.”