We Saw A Need, So We Solved It
Culturally Connected, Business Minded Central Florida’s Jewish Chamber of Commerce is gathering place for professionals from all backgrounds to build relationships and learn, and a bridge among Chambers.
My then boyfriend (now husband) Joel Goldstein and a friend of his approached Orlando’s Jewish Community Center (JCC) and suggested a professional networking program. The JCC was not interested in it, and the guys let the idea go.
After a little research, we found in addition to geographic-based chambers, there were more than a dozen minority chambers. There were chambers of commerce for Brazilians, Hispanics, African Americans, Christians, Caribbean Americans, Muslims, Asian Americans, American Arabs, Moroccan Americans, Indian Americans, British Americans, for people with disabilities, and more. However there was nothing for Central Florida’s Jewish population, nor was there anything to connect the various minority chambers.
We also found that there wasn’t anything to bring Jews together for professional networking or business purposes. Orlando’s Jewish Community Center was focused on family, education, and recreation; the Jewish United Fund fundraises for Israel; and the synagogues focused on religion. After contacting the various organizations, none of them wanted any part in starting, running or even supporting professional network.
With that in mind, Joel and I co-founded the Jewish Chamber of Commerce. The purpose was clear: to bring Jews and friends-of-Jews together for business purposes.
The Chamber Today
Culturally Connected, Business Minded the Jewish Chamber of commerce brings together professionals from diverse industries, religions and interests together to build relationships and learn.
After hours networking events, lunch and learns, and behind-the-scenes tours, docent led museum walks and other fun adventures fill the Chamber’s calendar.
Since the Chamber is non-religious and welcoming to all, Joel and I have been able to bridge gaps between other chambers to form a united minority presence and within the community and at events. We even have regular co-sponsored events with other minority chambers.
It was our plan to start the Chamber, build a membership and step back. Neither Joel nor I intended to lead the Chamber long-term. We are supporting a qualified and motivated professional who is taking the reins.
Joel and I sit on the Chamber’s board and we stay involved as it grows locally and nationally.
The Jewish Chamber of Commerce’s model was specifically designed to be easily replicable. If you’re interested in starting a chamber in your area, I’d like to hear from you!