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Women in Business Group Fosters Professional Growth

By Nina Polien Light | Photo by Gery Petrof

Jennifer Natale knows the special challenges career women face.

“I work full-time, have kids, and am running constantly,” Natale, president/CEO of the Solon Chamber of Commerce, says. “I’m always striving for that balance. The programs and events we offer for Solon Women in Business provide that balance.”

SWIB was formed about 10 years ago as a forum for the chamber’s increasing female membership. The group’s mission is “to help women by empowering them with information, opportunities for growth, and the ability to share best practices with other women who want to succeed in business.” 

Any chamber member is eligible to join, although the current roster consists solely of women who work or live in Solon and range from young to more mature career women. Natale says typical members are fast-paced working women who are balancing their professional and home lives — whether they are married or single, mothers or childless. About 25 women serve on SWIB committee, and between 50 and 100 people attend quarterly events.

The group, which is “retooling” under new chairwomen, is excited about several upcoming programs. A 3Chamber Mayoral event — featuring the three women mayors of the Solon, Aurora, and Twinsburg Chambers — is planned for Nov. 6 at Bertram Inn and Conference Center. The mayors will speak about their professional triumphs and challenges before they were elected to office. At the end of January SWIB will participate in the 3Chamber’s second-annual Women’s Expo at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg. It will allow women to connect with other local women representing hair salons, health and fitness venues, jewelers, banks, financial planners, travel agencies, and other fields. Last year’s event sold out. 

SWIB is just one facet of Solon’s active Chamber. “This is a huge ‘relationship chamber’ and the networking aspect is great,” Natale, noting the Chamber’s large size and representation in the industrial, commercial, retail, professional, and educational sectors, says.

Over the past year, the Chamber rebranded itself with a new logo, website, and the tagline, “Empowering, Educating, and Engaging Business.” The Chamber also created The Western Reserve Safety Council (another value-added program of the Chamber) and became the 80th Safety Council in Ohio. The Chamber partners with the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation to offer programs that help businesses and other organizations in northeast Ohio reduce their risk, become safer workplaces, and save up to 4 percent on Worker’s Compensation premiums.

In April the Chamber launched an online student job board in partnership with the Solon City Schools and the City of Solon. It lists senior projects, summer help, and career opportunities for local high school and college students. This year the Chamber introduced Shop Solon First, a website listing local businesses. Listings, which run $400 for non-members, are complimentary with chamber affiliation. More than 100 businesses are already represented on the site.

In June the Chamber moved its offices to a more visible location on SOM Center Road. It boasts a small meeting space for members and a deck for outdoor networking events. “This is a fast-paced and growing Chamber that provides so many value-added benefits to our members,” Natale says. “There’s something for everyone.”  

For more information: solonchamber.com, shopsolonfirst.com 

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