Spotlight On: Stephanie Freeman, President & CEO, Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber

Spotlight On: Stephanie Freeman, President & CEO, Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

1 min read April 2020 — Dunwoody, a city in DeKalb County and a northern suburb of Atlanta, has faced the same challenges as other cities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephanie Freeman, president and CEO of Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber, whose goal is to advance economic prosperity, relayed to Invest: the chamber’s efforts to assist the business community through this unprecedented crisis.


How is your organization working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic? 


At this time of social distancing, the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber is working diligently to be the steady voice of reason and reassurance for all businesses and the entire community. While our normal plan of work may be on hold, we are here to help businesses during this time of crisis. As they work to thrive during the current economic conditions, we are here for them; providing education, assistance, resources, and if needed a confidential outlet in which to discuss the future. We have developed a web page, are communicating daily with our members, and have developed an Engage Dunwoody Facebook group encouraging the entire community to communicate during this time. 


Do you feel the business community is receiving enough state and federal support? 

While the business community is receiving support from both the state and federal governments, the guidelines and regulations are ever changing. As this pandemic and its affects continue to vary, this is somewhat expected; however, businesses and community leaders look forward to a time when standards become more finalized. 


How can the local community best assist your efforts in this time of need? 

During this time, the local community may best assist the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber by communicating their specific needs. While we can’t fix all issues, we are here to provide resources and advocate on behalf of the business community.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:



Spotlight On: Les Vail, CEO & President, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce

Spotlight On: Les Vail, CEO & President, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020— The Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce’s focus on business development and education has positioned it as the fifth-largest chamber in the state of New Jersey. The chamber’s partnerships with local county colleges and universities have been key for businesses and the local workforce. Les Vail, president and CEO of the chamber, discussed with Invest: the different ways the chamber is promoting Gloucester County as an economic engine in the region.


 What have been some of the highlights for the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce over the past 12 months?


We have been making a concerted effort over the past year to improve branding and marketing to ensure that our message reaches as many people as possible. We initiated a partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey that provides around 30 percent discounts on degree tuition fees for any of our employees and members. We are already seeing that initiative bearing fruit, with over 12,000 unique visits per week across our social media platforms and a significant uptick in returns on our email blasts.


How is the chamber working to promote South Jersey as a catalyst for economic development in the tri-state area?


We have grown to become the fifth-largest chamber in the state with almost 1,000 members, and a big reason for that success is our focus on business development. We act as the middleman to help companies and executives connect with each other. Our efforts on education are also vital. We firmly believe that economic development starts with educating the workforce, as this is what attracts new businesses to the region. 


Manufacturing, for example, has a great need for employment. Gloucester County is the fifth-largest region in the country for food manufacturing. The sector offers competitive wages, but it is struggling to find sufficient numbers of skilled workers, not only for now but for the future. The industry does not necessarily require a college degree, but usually requires some form of certification. That’s where our partnerships with local county colleges can have an important impact. We listen to the business community and we support them in their efforts to increase the number of qualified workers for this industry.


What kinds of businesses are you trying to attract to the Gloucester County region?


We are not known as a technology hub, but we have a research institution and two medical schools that are contributing in this area. So we are looking to attract technology-based industries that can offer competitive wages. We have the land capacity and infrastructure in place to attract these businesses.


What are the main challenges facing businesses in the county?


Workforce is still the main issue. We need more plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Manufacturing businesses and refineries, despite offering attractive salaries, are struggling to find their future workforce. It is important to change the mindset of young people today and to let them know that not every career requires a college degree. We need to find people without college degrees and include them in the workforce by giving them valuable skills that contribute to the economy. This process starts in high school, so it is encouraging to see institutions like Gateway Regional High School offering guidance and advice on potential career paths to students from an early age.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce:


Spotlight On: Ruby Wake, Vice President, Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce

Spotlight On: Ruby Wake, Vice President, Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read November 2019 — At first glance it may seem that there are more than enough chambers and business organizations in the Tampa Bay region to service the needs of the business community. The newest entry into the market, the Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce, would beg to differ. Created with the goal of promoting and aiding new and established Latino and Hispanic organizations in the region, the new chamber is looking to make a quick and significant impact within Tampa Bay. Chamber Vice President Ruby Wake spoke with Invest: about its mission, Tampa Bay as an emerging international hub of business activity and how the chamber will be addressing the greatest needs for this sector of businesses. 


How did the Latin Chamber of Commerce come to fruition? 

We noticed that there was a gap between the various Latino and Hispanic organizations. In this region, we have amazing organizations that cater to small businesses and startups by providing them with legal and accounting services, but there is no organization that caters to the professional services industry or the technology-driven industries. This was one of our main rationales for wanting to create this new chamber. We are in the process of developing a chamber that brings more than just monthly meetings and luncheons. We want to develop a chamber that is going to facilitate and assist in the development of new industries and companies within Tampa Bay. To accomplish this, we have created a board of directors that is very diverse, ranging from attorneys, to public administrators, to news anchors, with the purpose of figuring out what we can do for the Latino business community within Tampa Bay. 

How is Tampa Bay establishing itself as a hub for international business? 

Tampa Bay is going to continue to emerge as a hub for both national and international businesses due to our location and easy access to economic essentials. We have our ports and we are centrally located in Florida. We also have a booming economy, and we are slated to surpass New York City from a population density standpoint, which is amazing. Being in Florida also means that we are close to our Central and South American counterparts and having that access gives us the ability to introduce industries from different parts of the world.

What is the greatest need from the Latin business community to help grow their businesses? 

We have noticed a lack of education from a financial standpoint. Unfortunately, most Latinos are not instilled with financial literacy at a young age. Even for those individuals with a higher education, it is not something that is taught in most universities, colleges or even in graduate schools. Programs are starting to emerge for high-school students, which is great, but what about adults who are already working full time in an industry or starting a business? These professionals have questions related to things like obtaining additional funding, creating a succession plan for their businesses or expanding on an already amazing business structure. How can they create an adequate business plan and then pitch that business plan to a potential loan officer or an investor, when they lack the education and resources? While, we contribute $300 billion to our nation’s economy, our businesses remain stagnant for the most part because of a lack of funding and a lack of education related to obtaining this funding. It is a vicious cycle that we are hoping to break.

How will the chamber assist in promoting Latino businesses and residents in Tampa Bay? 

We hope to assist with the disparity by establishing two accelerator programs and a Latino leadership program. One accelerator will be a technology accelerator that will be hosted in conjunction with Tampa Bay Wave and the second accelerator will be a professional services accelerator. The Latino leadership program will assist Latinos who are interested in becoming involved in the political arena. We hope that by providing these additional resources, we will propel not only the Latin community within Tampa Bay, but Tampa Bay in general.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit: