MIACC News Archives

August 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

Irish create business group

New local chamber of commerce plans to build network

  • By Christine Snyder
  • Special to The Detroit News

Michael Kelly, left, owner of Environmental Maintenance Engineers, and Dave  O’Connor of the Irish American Chamber of Commerce.  (Steve Perez / The Detroit  News)

The recent diversification of business groups in Michigan  has spawned a new chamber of commerce that taps into Metro Detroit’s  Irish-American community.

Dan RyanThe Michigan Irish American Chamber of Commerce officially launched June 1,  in time for the Motor City Irish Festival in Redford Township. It held its  inaugural meeting July 26 at the Gaelic League in Detroit. While founder and  President Dave O’Connor, a financial consultant in  Royal Oak, says he wants the chamber to be a hub of information for the Irish  community, it also fits into a business pattern.

“There is a trend across the nation and in Michigan of new chambers being  created or merged,” said Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Studley,  noting the formation two years ago of the Detroit-based Michigan Black Chamber  of Commerce.

While the Michigan Chamber of Commerce hasn’t had any contact with the  Michigan Irish American Chamber of Commerce, Studley said local or ethnic  chambers help represent more firms throughout the state that otherwise aren’t  involved in the statewide or national chambers. “That can be a very good thing  to reflect the diversity in the business community,” he said.

The inspiration for the Irish-American chamber happened when O’Connor  attended a Lakes Area Chamber.

“While there, I met people from the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce and the Asia  Pacific Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if there  is an Irish one?'”

He found Irish chambers in Chicago, New York and Boston, but despite the  300,000 people in southeastern Michigan alone who identify themselves as of  Irish descent, no Irish American chamber of commerce existed in the state.

O’Connor began to ask people in the Irish community their thoughts.  “Everybody said one of two things: Either they couldn’t believe there wasn’t one  already or ‘What a great idea,'” he said.

With about 24 members and growing, O’Connor said the chamber is open to all  residents of Michigan and will meet in different locations to be more accessible  and create more participation.

While the focus of the chamber is business and networking, O’Connor said it  also will be a good source of information for those interested in Irish culture.  The chamber’s website posts Irish cultural events, as well as its own networking  and other activities.

“There is a huge group of people that we can tap that would probably want to  get to know some of their roots and learn a little bit about the  culture,” said O’Connor, who added there are 30 different nonprofit Irish  cultural organizations people can find out about as members.

But connecting with other businesses remains important for some members.

“This is quite attractive to me from the perspective of having businesses  with an Irish connection getting together,” said Joseph McGill, a chamber board  member and an attorney and principal at Foley, Baron and Metzger law firm in  Livonia.

“I didn’t see that in this marketplace.”

Anything that brings different businesses together is good for the community  and the local economy, McGill said.

“The more connections you have out there, the better,” he said.

Mike Kelly, president of Environmental Maintenance Engineers, said the  business focus was important to him. As president of the United Irish Society  and chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Corktown neighborhood of  Detroit, Kelly said he likes the idea of extending his connection to his Irish  culture to his business connections.

“Of course with all businesses in this area, it’s nice to have relationships  with people,” Kelly said, “and other nationalities have chambers and they have  been successful.”

Christine Snyder is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.


Michigan Irish American Chamber of Commerce

Founded: June 1 Founder and President: Dave O’Connor Contact: (231) 590-0003 or dave.c.oconnor@gmail.com. Website: michiganirishchamber.com/ Eligibility: Open to all  Michigan residents, not just Irish Americans Dues: Free to political  office holders. $100 individual, $200 business

August 25, 2012 From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120825/BIZ/208250321#ixzz24f3RaqRw

July 20, 2012 dbusiness:  Detroit’s Premier Business Journal  http://www.dbusiness.com/DBusiness/Professionals/index.php?cp=5&si=52

August 1, 2012 Oakland Press: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/08/01/business/doc5017284f01d85981382864.txt

Sept / Oct 2012 Digital Editions: http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/publication/?i=127398&p=11

March 10, 2013 from Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130310/METRO/303100334

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