Connor Osborn first got involved with the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce two years ago, while working for a Farmington-based nonprofit.
Now, the 26-year-old University of Michigan-Dearborn alum is leading the business-focused organization. His first day as Executive Director was September 30.
Osborn said that after former Greater Farmington Area Chamber Director Mary Martin resigned in August, a Chamber board member contacted him. He was one of several applicants for the position and said he’s excited to make the move.
“It’s a great leap up for me professionally,” he said, “but I can still be part of this organization that I love.”
Osborn, who was an active leader with the Young Professionals Committee and as a Chamber Ambassador, said his big goal is “providing a service and being an asset to businesses that are part of the Chamber. I want to add on to the benefits they already have, so they want to be part of us.”
A redesigned website, unveiled last week, is part of that service. While it has been in the works for some time with Blue Note Marketing Services, Osborn said he helped guide the project across the finish line with his background in web development.
“It will allow us to create more benefits for members, and gives them more freedom. It’s a living, breathing document,” he said, “and gives us the ability to grow as we move forward.”
Osborn is also focused on recruiting new members and getting a more clear picture of existing membership – how businesses engage with the Chamber and what they want to get out of it.
“Everybody has different needs,” he said. “It’s a lot of ‘meet and greet’ right now.”
Osborn said he’s had help not only from the board, but from Martin and previous director Dan Irvin, and an Oakland County network of Chamber directors. In fact, he has a waiting list of people who have offered assistance.
“I have quite the support system behind me,” he said.
The Chamber produces the Greater Farmington Founders Festival, a summer event that suffered losses this year due to severe weather.
There was also a controversy over moving the Festival from downtown Farmington to Shiawassee Park – but Osborn said without the two nights of high winds and downpours, “we were on track to be what it was in the past.”
The Chamber is in discussions with Farmington and Farmington Hills city officials about the 2020 event, Osborn said. “It is happening. Just how that looks, I can’t say yet.”
With what he calls an “open door” policy, Osborn invites anyone interested in the Chamber to stop by his office at 32780 Grand River, Suite 207A, in Farmington, and have a conversation, even if it’s not a comfortable one.
“The only way we can grow this community is by open communication,” he said. “The more those conversations happen, the better we can be together.”