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Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do at your Chamber of Commerce?
I’m Makayla-Courtney McGeeney of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, and I’m the Marketing Director for my Chamber. I’m responsible for a weekly newsletter, managing social channels, writing and distributing press releases, promoting networking and community events, consulting small business owners on their marketing strategies, and connecting them with financial resources.
What made you want to work for the Chamber of Commerce?
I started working for the chamber in 2019 as a consultant for a marketing workshop due to grant funding that was in place, and it helped me realize that I wanted to get more involved in the community and learn how I can contribute to the success of small businesses. That process made me realize how much of a lack of information there is between local and state resources/opportunities and the greater community. During the pandemic, a lot of business owners lost in-person connection with each other, so we surveyed the community and decided a newsletter – The Business Connector – was a way to fulfill that demand for information.
What do you love the most about the area where you live in Massachusetts?
I love this part of Western MA because I grew up in a very small town outside of Albany, NY and while I was still too young when I lived there to learn about the importance of community and networking, it has a similar feel. Everyone knows each other. I went to college at MCLA out here and stayed because I got a job working as a journalist and I was intrigued by learning about everyone’s unique stories. North Adams is a great place to start new and become a new version of yourself, and that’s just what I did after college.
Why do you think it’s important for everyone to be a member of a Chamber of Commerce?
Our Chamber is a bit different because we are grant funded, so we’ve done away with the membership model, and that really opened the doors to a lot more opportunities and even more support from the business community. They feel supported no matter if they donate or not, and it’s our obligation to give them assistance. We support all 11 towns in the Northern Berkshires, so it’s quite spread out, but a lot of business owners struggle with similar problems. I wouldn’t want someone to be turned away from a marketing or consulting opportunity just because they can’t pay a yearly membership fee. With that said, it makes it more difficult to educate everyone about the services that we offer because there’s many people who still don’t know what the purpose of a Chamber is.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
I’ve learned a few things over the last few years working for my Chamber. The first is that people just want to be heard. Sometimes, consulting sessions end up feeling like a therapy session, and that’s okay. Small business owners are so tied up in the everyday operations that they neglect to step back and look at how delegation or support could make them succeed. The other side to that is learning about being patient and compassionate and to not take things to heart. In a small town, there may be a client or business owner who doesn’t like your suggestions or didn’t find value, and that’s okay because not everyone is the same.
If you weren’t in your current position, what would your next dream job be?
I would either open a small gym for women (fitness is my other passion), or develop a marketing agency.
When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy?
I have two high energy cattle dogs, so a lot of my life is consumed by them, but it works out because I really enjoy listening to comedy podcasts, so I can do that on my walks! I also like taking photos as a photographer, gardening, traveling, and being creative in any way that I can.
Thank you for sharing more about yourself! Tell us how we can get in touch with your Chamber of Commerce or find it online.