February 27, 2013 - Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce has a new look and renewed mission, reflected in its newly renovated headquarters at 5856 S. Main Street.
Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce members and friends cut the ribbon during the newly renovated chamber headquarters’ grand reopening, Feb. 19. (click for larger version)
"We're very, very excited," said Penny Shanks, chamber executive director, at the grand reopening and ribbon cutting, Feb. 19.
Paisley wallpapered walls and offices are gone, leaving a large, open space equipped with chairs, computers on desks and stand-up stations, and file cabinets, all on wheels.
"They can be configured in many different ways, classroom, board room, round table – tremendous flexibility," she said. "We can do more on a spontaneous basis."
The benching-system layout replaces an antiquated design, a jump of several decades, said Kevin Harrison of KH Home in Clarkston, who designed it.
Instead of workers closed off in offices or cubicles separated by walls and file cabinets, the new layout is open and adaptable.
"It's the current trend," he said. "People rarely need as much storage at their fingertips as they think they do – if you only use something once or twice a year, do you really need it right there?"
Demand for privacy is declining amongst younger workers who are more in contact with each other through social media.
"People are very connected now. They don't want private work space anymore," Shanks said. "It really does quicken the pace of work."
The design is meant to grow with the needs of local businesses over the next decade, she said.
"You can host training sessions, all kinds of functions," Harrison said.
The entry way is sheltered by a translucent, industrial-roof paneling with big-screen, Wi-Fi capable TVs.
"It's an entrepreneurial look with a creative vibe," Shanks said.
It also includes a private meeting room for small groups.
Work started before Christmas break, with major flooring, framing, and construction during the holidays.
"Money had been put aside for a while and we were waiting for the right time," Harrison said.
That time came just before the chamber's business Expo last November – a flood from a neighboring office damaged flooring and required repairs anyway.
"The design is great, cutting edge," said Clarkston builder Sam Moraco, contractor for the project. "It turned out really nice, a lot more modern. It reflects the future instead of the past."
The office isn't just for chamber employees. Chamber members will be able to use it for meetings, projects, and other business development work.
"It's a place where home-based business owners can meet with customers," Shanks said. "This is a place to incubate businesses."
A new economic-development employee will also be available to help local businesses flourish, she said.
"Our networking and community events will continue, but now we'll be so much more," Shanks said.
Inspired by the chamber's 25-year anniversary this year, the Board of Directors created a strategy for the future, she said.
"We're going fast this year, a full court press to accelerate economic transformation of the township and city by putting chamber resources to work," she said.
For more information, call 248-625-8055.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.