WEST ORANGE, NJ More than 80 people recently attended the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) Semi-Annual Membership Meeting for members and prospective members at Lyric PAC. As part of its effort support local business people, the chamber is offering a free month of advertising on its website for anyone who joins from now through July 31.

During last week's interactive event, attendees learned about the benefits of WOCC membership, while enjoying food and drinks, raffles, networking, having a free professional headshot taken and more.

The meeting also served as a platform for the WOCC to thank members for their participation and contributions to the chamber’s events and programs, to welcome prospective members and to tell all in attendance about the benefits of being a chamber member.

Sign Up for West Orange Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“The event was very well-attended and provided a thorough understanding of everything the chamber does,” said attendee Cab Burtt, an energy consultant with Vivint Solar, who joined the chamber following the event. “I was surprised to see so many people on a hot Monday in July.”

The membership benefits information was a refresher for members, as it offered information on ways for maximizing membership. The information shared also let prospective members know what benefits they could look forward to having as members including networking, marketing, and sponsorship opportunities.

Following a keynote speech from Mayor Robert Parisi, Sally Mallech—WOCC board president and director of public relations and marketing at RWJBarnabas Health—spoke about WOCC's mission and announced that membership has increased by 30 percent in the last year. During her discussion, Malech said that networking provides the community with the ability to grow business and thrive through the relationships made.

Malech also presented Jessica Marrone-Parkes, who is stepping down after serving as the executive director of the WOCC for a little more than a year, with a plaque thanking her for her hard work.

WOCC board member Tez Rojo, a realtor with Keller Williams, provided a presentation on the benefits of membership. She explained membership is $125 per year for solopreneurs and that Lunch and Learn sessions and WOCC Mixers are free for members or $20 each for non-members.

According to Rojo, members who attend a few of these events will more than make up the money spent and that they will make even more "great quality connections, which can take your business to the next level.”

Nancy Mullin, supervisor of Career Education and Library Science at the West Orange Public Schools, spoke about the benefit of mentorship opportunities through the chamber. Members of the chamber get to give back and act as mentors for high school students who are creating businesses for competition via the school’s Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) program.

WOCC member Arnie Amir of Growth Point Business Consulting discussed chamber events like the Biz 2.0 Workshops; mixers; and ribbon cuttings. According to Amir, the goal of the Biz 2.0 workshops is to offer speakers and topics that are valuable and beneficial to members and businesses.

Amir invited anyone interested in coming to an educational event, to register here to attend the next Biz 2.0 session to be held on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange from noon to 1:30 p.m. As the speaker of the next event, Amir will discuss the topic, “Real Leadership Matters: How Your Employees and Customers Benefit.”

During the meeting, the WOCC gave out "Most Valuable Member" awards to: West Orange resident Roman Martens, owner of British Swim School (Most Attendance); Joy and Shamar Morton, owners of The Kids Palace (Most Valuable Members); and Mark Yecies, of SunQuest Funding (Most Enthusiastic New Member).

Following the meeting, some attendees signed up on the spot to join the chamber. As a thank you, these new members received a free month of advertising on the chamber’s website.

The chamber has since announced that the offer for a month of free advertising will be extended until July 31 for anyone else interested in joining the chamber.

“I joined because membership offers a good opportunity to meet other local business owners," said Java’s Compost owner Michelle Bradley, who was one of the attendees to join the WOCC following the event. “It also seems like the chamber offers a lot of marketing support, business development help and networking opportunities.”

Burtt said he joined the chamber on the day of the event because he enjoyed networking and getting to know different groups of people.

"I find that if we understand each other well, business referrals flow naturally,” said Burtt, adding that the WOCC also provides many opportunities to get to know the community. "I live in South Orange, and am already active in the Maplewood Chamber, so joining the West Orange Chamber was a good fit for me.”

Lisa Neal of New Body Training Systems also joined the chamber after the meeting because she enjoyed meeting fellow business owners. 

"We liked that the chamber seems so active in town and that the people we met from the chamber seemed really engaged in what they were doing," said Neal. "We also liked the idea of having educational sessions every other month. We thought it was a very positive experience and presentation on what’s possible in West Orange and that is why we attended, will attend events in the future – and joined the WOCC.”

Visit the WOCC website by clicking HERE to learn more or to see an event schedule.