Spotlight On: Stephanie Immelman, CEO, Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce

Spotlight On: Stephanie Immelman, CEO, Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce

2022-07-13T04:56:55-04:00July 5th, 2022|Economy, Palm Beach, Spotlight On|

2 min read July 2022 Downtown Delray Beach has seen a notable amount of success in the last two years as many people found the city the perfect place to live and work. Now, Stephanie Immelman, CEO of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, is focused on making sure that success touches all parts of the community. “It’s so important that all sectors of our town can succeed,” she told Invest:.

What are the major highlights for your organization in the past 12 months?

The pandemic affected the way that we do business and it changed it. But I think it has changed it in a good way. This Chamber of Commerce has been around for about 90 years but I always like to say it’s not your grandad’s Chamber of Commerce because we provide ways for our members to grow their business, connect with other members and learn. We do that both digitally and in person. 

We have a lot of opportunities that we started during the pandemic but we’ve kept some of them virtual because they tend to work better. One example of that would be our government affairs and economic development First Friday Forum. We used to meet here at the Chamber. There would be about 40 people in our boardroom. We would have to get the speaker and then all our city partners, such as the City Community Redevelopment Agency, the Downtown Development Authority, the police and the fire department, would all give updates monthly. We did that in person. 

The pandemic forced us to do that virtually and we have kept it virtual because it’s more convenient for everyone. First, we get better speakers, we can get our House representatives Zooming in from Washington, D.C., and we can get the Palm Beach County state attorney. He’ll be on CNN or Morning Joe and then he’ll Zoom into our call. It’s more convenient for people and more people see it. Instead of 40 people getting this valuable information, 250 to 500 people are now getting it.

How is the relocation trend having an impact on your community?

I think it’s tapering off just slightly but the housing market was extremely hot because a lot of people wanted to be in Florida where they could have a yard rather than being in an apartment building in New York. We’re very lucky to have these amazing companies that can allow their employees to relocate to this area. That gives us representation in the financial and the tech markets. 

Still, affordable housing is a major concern throughout the county and it’s something that everyone is working on at every level. We’re working on it at a micro-level through our agencies here. I’m working on affordable housing through the Community Land Trust, the CRA is working on micro-housing for our most underserved people as well. 

This is something that we’re focusing on. Everybody is working together on housing and also on transportation solutions for our community.

How is your membership performing in the wake of the pandemic?

We’ve doubled our membership since the pandemic, which was a surprise for us. In the beginning, we didn’t know what to expect. We were so worried about our businesses because if they’re not sustainable, then we’re not sustainable. But we’ve all found a way to work around it. 

What are the most vibrant industries now in your region?

Our hospitality industry is very vibrant and that’s at least 20 to 25% of our economy. But we have a lot of other businesses as well. There are small businesses related to tourism. Real estate is also a key sector, including real estate brokers, insurance people and lawyers. We’re also finding a lot of newer startups in the financial and tech industry are coming here because they can work anywhere and they want to live in a beautiful place.

How is the labor shortage affecting your business community?

Last summer was the tightest market. It was the most difficult period in terms of getting people back to work. We and our city partners got together and held virtual job fairs and the greatest demand was in hospitality, meaning culinary, hotels, restaurants and shop owners. 

Since then, the shortage has eased somewhat. Our restaurant industry suffered the most but most of them are back now. Our construction industry is off the charts. A year ago, it was tight but we feel like it’s easing. We’re not seeing as many help wanted signs as we used to.

How are local businesses embracing diversity, equity and inclusion?

That is one of my main priorities at this job, and I’m happy to say that we’ve been succeeding at it. Prosperity must work for everybody in our community. We’re highly focused on that and making sure that we touch all sectors of our society. We want to get them involved in our Chamber because from the very beginning, our brand has been about community. We want our whole community to be involved in each other’s successes and to celebrate them. DEI is one of my priorities in terms of recruiting and in terms of membership recruitment. It’s so important that all sectors of our town can succeed.

What is your outlook for your organization and the local business ecosystem?

My outlook is so bright. We want to take the success that we’ve had in general in one part of our town and make sure the entire town can sustain and enjoy that same prosperity. That’s one of the big things that I have focused on. We’ve got a very strong and vibrant Downtown. We’ve got a lot of members within our Downtown who we want to talk to. But we also want to reach out to people out past the Turnpike. That’s still part of our community; it’s still part of the Delray Beach community. We’ve made a concerted effort to engage as many businesses as we can, not only within the small area of Delray Beach but further afield.

For more information, visit:

https://delraybeach.com/