Quality of Norwalk community life key focus for new Chamber leader
A commitment to the critical role of the business community in enhancing the quality of life in Norwalk is driving Eric Simon in his new role as president of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce.
Simon, a 10-year member of the Chamber, assumed the leadership role at the beginning of 2019 after terms as second vice president and vice president and as a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development subcommittee. He’s also had leadership roles in other organizations, including service on the Facilities Subcommittee of the Norwalk school district’s SIAC, and past work with the City of Norwalk’s Construction Board of Appeals and the South Suburban YMCA’s Board of Managers.
The Chamber role is his focus now as he begins a term to build on goals Chamber leaders set at a strategic planning session in December. “We’ve identified three external focus areas for 2019,” he said. “Two, of course, are to support local businesses and to promote economic development. A third is to draw upon the Chamber to enhance the quality of life of all residents.”
That’s a goal that many may not identify with a typical Chamber direction. “The Chamber is more than a business organization and, in today’s rapidly changing world and in our rapidly growing city, the Chamber can be the focal point that links businesses, organizations, education and especially the families of Norwalk who use and enjoy what businesses, education and organizations provide.”
To achieve the goals, Simon hopes to enable the Chamber to increase the number of networking opportunities for members, a need indicated in a member survey. He also hopes to facilitate continued direct access for members to state and local lawmakers in addition to the Chamber’s own role in advocating for business and community needs. Another goal is to evaluate each of the Chamber’s “signature events” to assure their success, especially as opportunities to bring community members together, again enhancing the quality of life for citizens.
Carrying out the strategy also means growth for the Chamber. “There are many valuable reasons to join the Chamber,” Simon says. “If you’re new to town, the Chamber can be a safe place to meet other business members and get introduced to the community. Whether you’re new or you’ve been a member for 20 years, you’ll meet people you didn’t know before. These are potential clients or connectors to potential clients.
“The Chamber provides exposure for a business through various promotions, advertising, event sponsorships and more. And, of course, by getting involved in the Chamber, there are unlimited opportunities to volunteer, either on subcommittees or the board or at events.”
Simon brings expertise developed in his role as Vice President of Operations at SHYFT Collective, a Des Moines based company that helps clients by delivering clear project leadership and design direction to organizations experiencing real estate change, whether through major new construction projects or expansion or renovation of existing property. SHYFT works in both the commercial and multi-family construction markets. Simon’s role includes business development, leading a team of project and construction managers and managing some projects on his own.
“With over 20 years of experience in the working world, I really enjoy the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others in the hope that when they face the same challenges, they can tackle them better or faster than I did because of the insights I’ve provided. That is truly rewarding for me.”