Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 11:30 a.m., business leaders and professionals from the Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce, Bartow Business Association, Bartow Business Connection and Northside Business Connection will meet at Dellinger Park for a combined luncheon.
"I think anytime that people get together to discuss their business and the businesses of others, all it does is help to strengthen the business community," said Parnick Jennings, Bartow Business Connection co-founder. "I think that we've learned from the networking groups, together with the Chamber, that one group can't provide everything and this is a way that we can expose all the different groups to what the others have to offer. And at the end of the day, Bartow County will be the winner because of it."
The Bartow Business Association and past President Grady Clark helped bring the idea to fruition as a way to bring together members of the business community. He emphasized that despite different meeting times and organizational structures, all of the groups share fundamental basics, which are of particular importance in today's economy.
"I think that with the economy that we're in right now, networking is obviously one of the best things that anybody can do for their business. Building relationships, getting to know people, keeping things local, all of those things are things all of our different groups talk about at individual gatherings and the idea to bring everybody together to show, number one that we are all in this together. That every group is supporting one another, that we're all out supporting local businesses, because that's what comes first. If we can keep them strong and keep them going then the economy itself is going to sustain and of course it's going to benefit the community as a whole," Clark said.
As an advocate for shopping locally and doing business with those you know, Jennings helped form the Bartow Business Connection to bring businesses together monthly in various locations rotating throughout the community at no charge or membership fee. The Northside Business Connection was formed for much of the same reason but with weekly meetings at the Cartersville IHOP. Northside also charges no fees and meets each Wednesday at 8 a.m.
The Bartow Business Association is currently in their 2010 membership drive offering a year's inclusion at $75 for their monthly lunch meetings, which include networking opportunities as well as a guest speaker. Member dues are put back into the community through donations and special events such as their lake day for patients of the Shepherd Center.
The Chamber of Commerce operates as a nonprofit for the advancement of local businesses. Through networking events, seminars, educational opportunities, political advocacy and other features, the Chamber of Commerce offers various functions for the benefit of small businesses.
"Each one of us have overlapping members but there are also some of the organizations that have people that are not members of the other organizations. So, it was thought that it would be good to expose them to what the other organizations have to offer because it will better strengthen the business community here in Bartow County," Jennings said.
The Bartow Business Connection has actively kept track of business done as a result of connections made during their meetings. Since their first meeting in January 2009, the Bartow Business Connection has received reports of more than $1.6 million worth of sales and services coming from the monthly networking events.
"It points out the fact that if people know there are businesses here in town that offer the services or products that they want, they're willing to trade with them. And I think the failure that we have had in the past is that we haven't perhaps done as good a job at getting the word out as we could, and when I say we I mean the entire business community as a whole."
Lunch will be provided by Barbecue Street for $8. Members and participants of the participating groups are invited to hear from each of the groups and network with those in attendance. Businesses that have not participated in any of these groups are asked to contact either Grady Clark at 770-655-0655 or Parnick Jennings at 678-767-7169.