GREATER BETHESDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PROOF OF VACCINE REQUIREMENT RESOLUTION ORAL COMMENTS AT COUNTY COUNCIL WORK SESSION
January 18, 2022
Congratulations to our members featured in Bethesda Magazine's "Best of Bethesda 2022"!
...and others! The Chamber is proud to house some of the best businesses in the greater Bethesda area in our organization. We celebrate you, your hard work, and your contribution to our community!
For 33 years the Bethesda community, led by Hyatt Regency Bethesda and the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce along with the BCC Rescue Squad, have made a tradition out of celebrating the holidays with those in our community who need a little extra. Unfortunately, the onset of COVID-19 has made that need greater and more urgent than in years past. We knew we didn’t want to do the same thing in the name of tradition, when the need and resources were more different than ever.
Last year, St. John’s Norwood Episcopal Church reached out with a way for us to serve those we serve every December as well as more of those who find themselves food insecure, possibly for the first time because of COVID-19. St. John’s had already aligned with the BCC Rescue Squad as a location for distribution and had partnered with Nourish Now to get food in the hands of those who need it on a weekly basis. Now, instead of a one-time dinner celebration, we have the wonderful opportunity to feed our community and spread holiday cheer every single week of December. This new endeavor is called Nourishing Bethesda, and the GBCC involvement in the endeavor is called the Goodwill Dinner Coalition.
The distribution happens every Friday in December from 1pm – 3pm. This year we will be distributing 350 of the following:
December 3: Wreaths
December 10: Gingerbread Houses
December 17: Family dinner for 6
December 24: Pies
December 31: Hats, Gloves, & Scarves
Read on to find out ways you can help!
(How You Can Help
Serving 350 families is no small task, and we NEED your help!
There are two ways we ask the Bethesda community to support the Goodwill Dinner Coalition.
THANK YOU in advance for your support and generosity. Together, we can make an impact on the lives around us, and spread some joy in our community.
- The Goodwill Dinner Coalition
By Arianna Ross, CEO of Story Tapestries
Creating possibilities for children to fall in love with learning. The partnership between local Non-Profits like Story Tapestries and businesses make a HUGE difference in how our children and families feel supported.
Just watch their eyes light up with JOY!: https://youtu.be/mVFyc4zPJJA
The video shared above is just one example of the power of collaboration. It came about with the support of individuals like local businesses and community partners who are invested in your community, alongside local businesses, educators, and artists. Story Tapestries has witnessed over and over again the incredible power of the arts to shift the dynamics so community members focus on what “WE” can create, realizing the capacity we each have to create possibility for another person.
It is so exciting and humbling to see businesses stepping up and supporting the ability to make this kind of “magic” happen. Our network - that’s you, another local member of the Bethesda Chamber of Commerce - is a true gift as you’re constantly thinking about how you can support the community through giving back to one of your partners, volunteering or…...
The question that you might be asking is how does this happen? Sometimes a business reaches out to a non-profit like Story Tapestries and asks the organization for our support in marketing their products. Other times, a business has a social philanthropic policy and the non-profit aligns with their giving philosophy. Either way, once the partnership is born, magic happens and the organizations work together for the good of the community.
For example, local business contributions have expanded the reach of arts programs to over 350,000 community members this year - WOW! Their support has grown beyond a simple donation of dollars to a true partnership that values the capacity for the arts to impact learning. The shift began with conversations with local business owners like Dottie Fitzgerald of Fitz Auto Mall. When Dottie heard about the urgent issues community members were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was moved to action. Families did not have the tools they needed to support strong, passionate, committed, thoughtful learners. Youth were failing - struggling academically as well as emotionally - and the education gap was growing. Parents were mentally exhausted and worried about how to make ends meet while also helping their children be successful. Story Tapestries had a proven solution: provide access to supplies and engaging learning opportunities that use the arts to make the information and experience fun and inclusive of all. Dottie, and others, jumped in to make sure the youth who needed these resources the most had access.
As a result, students expanded their minds and discovered a LOVE of learning!
Most recently, a teacher at Charles Drew Elementary School said, “Jonathan, he struggles to learn. He has not given an authentic answer all year. But this past month (working with a Story Tapestries teaching artist) he wrote four poems. He shined. He came out of his shell.” Another teacher shared that her students treasure the supplies they received in their arts and literacy kit like they are gold because before we sent them their pens, pencils, markers and journals, they used to do their math on paper towels.
After listening, community members like Dottie and her team at Fitz Auto Malls truly stepped up. They made a cash donation so that Story Tapestries could immediately get started buying supplies and providing effective programs. After speaking with their managers, they set in motion a supply drive with two of their dealerships to gather further supplies. In a short period of time, they collected 1,140 items that we used to put together 400 arts and literacy kits! After they stepped up to the plate, other businesses and nonprofits stepped in and joined the effort. Last year, to complement our virtual and in-person programs, we gave out 9,000+ arts and literacy kits. The need is still great, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with you to expand our reach to 10,000 more youth who can’t wait to receive their own kit!
The key is that the business partnered with an organization to support the community. Together we were stronger.
Want to learn more about Story Tapestries:
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Transforming Office Building Access for Today's Needs
Since the pandemic hit, office building security has come to have a new meaning, and Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce member Datawatch Systems is an expert in access control, transforming the commercial office environment. Managing access to over 100,000 doors nationwide, Datawatch is an industry leader. With a multi-point program designed to manage and address the concerns of the modern office building, Datawatch helps its customers by providing the latest and best options to keep tenants and visitors safe and comfortable.
It Matters More than Ever
Building access control and monitoring systems have always addressed multiple priorities. From personal safety to physical and intellectual property protection, commercial office buildings owners and property managers need to adapt to their tenants' unique needs and concerns. Health has become a priority as well. "Our clients need to help their tenants with social distancing and other safety protocols, and we need to have accurate, immediate information to be able to trace exposure to the COVID-19 virus so we can inform occupants and visitors," says Joe Leightner, Vice President Of Sales, for Datawatch. Since Datawatch has decades of experience in this business, "We were able to leverage our unique blend of hardware, software, and processes to provide solutions to the challenge facing businesses operating in the pandemic."
Among the challenges Datawatch has addressed are the hybrid office, touchless access, and scaling from hyper-local to national operations. "Datawatch is based in Bethesda, but our clients need to offer management and protection throughout the United States," says Stephanie Doggett, Datawatch Customer Service Manager. Datawatch works with some of the most recognized names in the commercial real estate industry and brings its knowledge and skill to all of its relationships with a constantly advancing collection of sophisticated solutions.
Commercial Real Estate & Tenant Solutions
Today's commercial office space requires a sophisticated collection of solutions to manage the comings and goings of anywhere from dozens to thousands of people a day. Each building has unique challenges, like physical configuration that require custom solutions. Does a building have a visitor desk, elevators dedicated to specific floors, retail and office space, or public parking? All of these elements and more can impact a Datawatch design. Datawatch offers these work place solutions:
According to Ted Low, Senior VP Business Development, "Office building owners don't want to have to go to multiple vendors to find solutions to each of these issues and then have to manage the integration of these various systems." A single source for all of these needs, supported by trained, professional staff, allows buildings to offer peace of mind and convenience to their tenants, which increases the value of the space. Datawatch is able to offer design, installation and operation of the most technologically advanced systems, and its teams provide training and facilitate integration of systems for new construction, suite and building remodels, or replacement of outdated systems.
Located in the Bethesda area since 1981, this business has come to be synonymous with quality and safety in the Washington, DC Metro area. "We are proud members of the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, which has always been an important organization for us," says Paula Crosby, Marketing Director for Datawatch. To learn more about Datawatch, visit their website.
The GBCC offers a Member to Member Discount program. Imagine you and team members of your organization walk into your favorite member restaurant like Tommy Joe’s Bar & Grill, you let your server know you are members of the chamber, and just like that you receive a discount off your check. How great would be to receive a free business or personal checking account with Sandy Spring Bank just by being a member? This is an exclusive program designed to enhance membership value, encourage members to support other members while saving some money, increase visibility, and promote for their companies.
Saving money isn’t the only reason to participate in the discount program. Businesses who do participate in the program not only gain more support from fellow members, they also gain more referrals, and visibility. Providing discounts attracts new and repeat business, increases sales, and boosts your reputation. What more can you ask for? Any business industry is welcome to participate and every employee within your organization can take full advantage of the discount program. Annual membership discount cards are provided for you and your staff and all you do is show them at any of the participating businesses. Interested in participating? You can submit the online form on your Members Only Profile, Add a Coupon, or submit the Completed Form directly to me.
Director of Membership & Community Engagement
November 19, 2021
The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce NEEDS YOUR HELP advocating for a NEW redistricting map that does not mute our voice or harm North Bethesda
Use our prewritten letter to email members of the County Council (see below)
The County Council is considering a new Council district map that will have long term, negative implications for North Bethesda. Now is the time to send an email to Council President Tom Hucker and members of the County Council to express your concern.
The redistricting commission has submitted to the Council its recommended map for seven new council districts, and it is not good for North Bethesda (read more on the blog). Simply put, one of the new gerrymandered districts combines North Bethesda with Silver Spring and Takoma Park, which minimizes our voice in local politics, pulls North Bethesda away from our neighbors and community, and prevents our needs from being met. Once approved, we will have to live with this disenfranchisement for at least the next 10 years and perhaps beyond that.
The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce is advocating for a new redistricting map that does not harm North Bethesda, and we need YOUR help.
Please take a moment to email the County Council and let them know that this proposed map disenfranchises North Bethesda residents and businesses. In order to make an impact, the Council needs to hear from as many of our members as possible, and as soon as possible.
To send an email:
1) Please send an email to the entire below list.
2) Copy and paste the below letter into the body of your email. Feel free to make changes to personalize your email.
3) Remember to include your name, company or organization name (if applicable), and your address in the email.
4) Remember to put something in the subject line such as "Redistricting disenfranchises North Bethesda"
That’s it- it’s that easy to advocate for your community!
I am reaching out today to express my deep concern over the redistricting commission’s proposed map, which marginalizes North Bethesda.
While our community has often seen the “claim to North Bethesda” as a tug of war between Rockville and Bethesda, we can all agree that Silver Spring has never made such a claim. I urge you to consider either a new map or adjustments to the proposed map that addresses the concerns of myself and the members of the various organizations noted below.
Following are detailed points addressing why this proposed map disenfranchises North Bethesda residents and businesses and greatly increases the risk that our needs will be ignored:
· North Bethesda should be in a district with others on the 355 corridor. Whether that is Rockville or Bethesda is for the Council to decide.
· The Silver Spring/Takoma Park side of the bow tie has 100,000 residents while North Bethesda includes 50,000. Our voice will be muted and residents disenfranchised. The district is already referred to as the Silver Spring District, marginalizing North Bethesda.
· A major and growing economic driver for Montgomery County, North Bethesda should be more than an afterthought or sacrificial lamb whose placement was determined because it makes the rest of the map work.
· Why were Rockville and Gaithersburg’s desires to dictate their own boundaries given precedence over all others?
· The bow tie district is neither compact nor composed of adjoining territory as required by law. It is a gerrymandered district that does not preserve communities of interest as required by the commission’s ground rules.
· The process has been rushed due to delayed demographic information provided to the commission and without sufficient public input. Expediency should not take precedence over accuracy. Redistricting is too important not to do it right.
The process of redistricting is a difficult balancing act that requires juggling a myriad of conflicting interests. However, many individuals and organizations including Friends of White Flint, Luxmanor Civic Association, the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, and the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee among others, believe the proposed gerrymandered district minimizes our voice in local politics, pulls North Bethesda away from our neighbors and community, and prevents our needs from being met.
Please consider a new map or adjustments to the proposed map to address these concerns.
CHAMBERFLASH: GBCC is advocating for a NEW redistricting map that does not mute our voice or harm North Bethesda
The redistricting commission has submitted to the council its recommended map for the seven new council districts, and it is not good for North Bethesda.
The proposed district is shaped like a bow tie and combines North Bethesda with Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Many individuals and organizations (including Friends of White Flint, Luxmanor Civic Association, the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, and the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, among others) believe the proposed gerrymandered district minimizes our voice in local politics, pulls North Bethesda away from our neighbors and community, and prevents our needs from being met.
We urge you to ask the County Council to create a new map. (Contact info is below.) Also, please post your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #aNewMap … and don’t forget to tag all the County Council members.
Here are more detailed reasons why this proposed map disenfranchises North Bethesda residents and businesses and greatly increases the risk that our needs will be ignored.
What you can do to advocate for our community
We need you to urge the council to create a new map that keeps North Bethesda with its Route 355 neighbors, We also need you to help ensure this becomes a very visible public issue.
1) Write and call ALL the councilmembers before November 12th. Just calling our District One Councilmember Andrew Friedson will not have a sufficient impact. It is critical that you reach out to all nine councilmembers. Use the talking points listed above or use your own words. Feel free to copy us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Post on social media your reasons why North Bethesda should not be in the same district as Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Use the hash tag #aNewMap and tag all the councilmembers. Utilize the talking points listed above.
Thank you so much for your help making sure our voice is heard.
After a truly inspiring Leadership Luncheon, Jillian Copeland shared some of her favorite resources with GBCC. Check out the list below!
The Inspiring and Educational Brene Brown:
Health Gig Podcast: (Local and Informative)
Other Thoughtful Podcasts that inspire creativity:
Thanks for the feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
Boundary Boss by Terri Cole
Breath by James Nestor
The Choice be Edith Eger
BlindSpot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
& Love these Documentaries:
Far From The Tree
Derek Delgado, In and of Itself on Hulu
Jillian Copeland, Founder, Main Street
Racial Equity Capital Fund will provide needed capital to help minority-owned businesses create jobs and expand in communities served by Exelon’s utilities
CHICAGO (October 27, 2021) – Exelon’s utilities business, which owns six electric and gas utilities serving more than 10 million customers, announced today it has created a $36 million fund to support minority-owned businesses in the communities it serves. The launch of the Racial Equity Capital Fund will help minority businesses obtain capital to fuel growth and spur job opportunities in underserved and under-resourced communities often overlooked by investors and traditional funding sources. The capital fund is expected to invest in numerous businesses throughout Exelon’s service areas over the next three years with estimated loan amounts between $100,000 and $300,000 and equity investments of nearly $1 million.
The investment will be funded by Exelon’s utilities business, in partnership with the Exelon Foundation, and managed by RockCreek, a diverse-owned global investment firm, which has invested more than $7.4 billion in diverse firms since its inception. RockCreek will decide which businesses get financing, independent of other parties. The fund will be available as a resource to minority businesses, which have historically been denied bank funding in disproportionate numbers and often lack the initial equity and capital to grow and sustain their small businesses.
“RockCreek is excited to join with Exelon’s utilities business to invest the Racial Equity Capital Fund, which will bring much-needed capital to minority business to help them grow, create jobs, and strengthen communities in the years and decades to come,” said Afsaneh Beschloss, founder and CEO of RockCreek.
“Too often, we see small, minority-owned businesses struggle to obtain financial backing to fuel their ideas and innovations, and that problem has only grown worse during the pandemic,” said Calvin Butler, CEO of Exelon Utilities. “Yet these same entrepreneurs are often the greatest source of economic opportunity in their communities, especially in underserved and under-resourced areas that struggle to attract major service providers, retailers and other community-sustaining employers. With this fund, we can help minority job creators overcome barriers to their growth and success and ensure that the benefits of our post-pandemic economic recovery are shared more equitably.”
The initiative is part of Exelon’s ongoing, extensive efforts to promote equity, inclusion and economic opportunity in the diverse communities served by our six utilities, which include Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco. In addition to the investment fund, Exelon has:
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