Q&A with new Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce President, Douglas Wallace

Douglas Wallace has officially been in his new position as President and CEO of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce for just one month after starting on March 16, but it’s been a roller coaster of a month. While not as many community members and business owners have met the new chamber president as perhaps would under normal circumstances, Wallace is excited to begin meeting them and working with them as he can.

Wallace comes to the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce after previously working at the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce. With family in the area and as someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys gardening, he was excited about this new opportunity for a variety of reasons.

“I’m an avid outdoorsperson. I love to backpack, kayak, and hike,” Wallace says. “Here, I have a lot more space to play in and the ability to do that is an exciting concept to me.”

As a former small business owner himself, Wallace knows exactly how important a local chamber of commerce can be in helping a business hit the ground running, and is passionate about seeing that work carried out in Mt. Pleasant.

Q: What do you feel you bring to this position and community?

A: “I have an ability to connect with a lot of people. I’m a very social person. I’ve lived in a lot of communities and I’ve been very active in all of them. I’ve been a Rotarian, a Kiwannian, a supporter of the symphony and the arts.”

Q: What are you most excited about as you begin this role at the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce?

A: “I noticed that chambers have always helped provide a higher quality of life not only for businesses but for the community as a whole. Where I came from, Plymouth was the number two place to move to and I like to think I was a small part of making that happen… I think that’s a big part of the Chamber - bringing many community people together as a whole.”

Q: Are there new changes that you hope to bring to the Chamber, or new ways that you hope to move the Chamber forward? If so, what?

A: “I think there are some changes that can be made to help the community. I don’t know all of them as of yet. I have been on a lot of calls the last several weeks – with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, the ISD, the State Chamber, and the US Chamber. As I’m talking, things that are interesting are how we can connect the community as a whole. How can we get the outskirt communities to be more connected? Some of those businesses may not be as well connected. Anything we can do to help our community as a whole move forward… One of the things I think may be needed here would be working on wifi zones to help the community connect more. That’s a 5-10 year plan, how we can help the whole business community connect more with technology.”

Q: Why are you passionate about the Chamber's role in the community?

A: “When I was a small business owner in the last downturn, the chamber was a huge asset to my company. We had moved during the downturn to a larger facility, more warehouse space, larger kitchen and office space. The chamber was able to assist me with connecting to the proper people. They also helped me connect with vendors. They also helped me find some new employees by letting the community know I was hiring. My father was a civil engineer so I had seen him work as a city manager. My mother was a nurse and she was actively involved in the community. So, I grew up in a family where I saw them connecting with the community.”

Q: How is the Chamber helping businesses move forward or how will the Chamber continue to help businesses move forward amidst the impacts of social distancing and the shelter-in-place order?

A: “As the chamber continues moving forward, to help plan a healthy recovery for the community, I’ve been working a lot with other community organizations to help us move forward once we do get back to our jobs and livelihoods in a safe and healthy manner. I’ve been on calls with small business development groups, schools, and other organizations to help plan. It’s daily and hourly as to what we’re going to be able to do. I do stop into some of the businesses to talk so we can let the community know what options are open.”

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