About

Southwest Michigan Chamber opening

About

We are the largest chamber in Southwest Michigan, leading the charge for sustainable growth for our evolving region. We are committed to maximizing our talents, vision and trailblazing spirit to continue building upon the strong foundation of existing business, while also attracting new commerce and talent to our area. We are the “Voice of Business” in Michigan’s Great Southwest and we are working to achieve economic prosperity throughout the region.

Networking

Become engaged in the community by attending one of the many Chamber events held throughout the year.

Advocacy

As a registered 501(c)6 organization, our Chamber possesses the ability to engage in unlimited political lobbying on behalf of our members.

Visibility

Our Chamber offers numerous opportunities to enhance your visibility through targeted marketing, exclusive sponsorships, and an improved interent presence.

Benefits

We are proud to offer our members with a variety of benefits aimed at helping your enterprise save money and be successful.

Our Mission

Our mission is to leverage every available resource within our network for the advancement of our members and the betterment of all who live and work in our community.

Our Vision

To propel Southwest Michigan to national prominence as a vibrant, regional destination where business thrives, talent resides, and quality of life is second to none.

Our Goals

Invest in the attraction and development of business and talent.
Influence consumer sentiment and spending habits.
Impact public policy and elected officials through advocacy.
Improve alignment among stakeholders and across communities.
Ignite the growth of our region.

Our History

In 1954, when the current day Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber was launched under the name of The Twin Cities Area Chamber of Commerce, the organization engaged heavily in community planning, tourism and destination attractions, multi-modal transportation concerns, and industrial and retail development.

During the 1960’s, those were the same core targets throughout the northern end of Berrien County.  Teaming with state and county planning agencies, developing ways to get people and products in and out of the region, capturing a larger share of travelers to our shores, and building factories and storefronts were high priorities for Chamber and business leaders.

The 1970’s proved to be a decade of expansion and diversification for the Chamber, its elected leaders and the entire community.  Retail districts pushed out of core cities and into the townships.  Manufacturing plants continued to grow or were launched anew.  Chamber Ambassadors were busy with a myriad of ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings. 

The Decade of the ’80’s saw Chamber personnel re-creating the agency and developing methods to counteract the economically driven consolidations.  It became increasingly evident a transformation would be needed to re-tool the organization and the community itself.

Thus, in 1989, the community’s largest corporate citizen led the charge to formulate a new approach to economic development and the Community Economic Development Corporation was placed side-by-side with the Twin Cities Area Chamber of Commerce.  A short time later, the two entities “merged” to create today’s Cornerstone Alliance.  While streamlining the organization, their very charters and state licensing forced each to maintain separate financial resources.

Concerned in the early to mid-’90’s that Chamber of Commerce terminology and service was underemphasized, the agency was renamed Cornerstone Alliance and Chamber Services.  The organization had been vital and active, but with no direct reference to “Chamber” activities questioned the continued ability to succeed in typical Chamber roles.

In December of 1996, recognizing  the value of a stronger Chamber of Commerce presence in the community, the Cornerstone Alliance board of directors voted to create an independent board of directors charged with operations of a more autonomous Chamber.

That action empowered the Chamber to further expand efforts on member networking, regulatory and legislative relief on business issues, and on a strong “Shop Local” campaign to capture more of our effective buying income.

Our corporate name has changed from time to time.  Our leadership has stepped up and retired.  Our day-to-day duties and efforts have evolved.  However, the mission has remained a constant drive to promote business and enhance the quality of life for the community.

In June of 2017 the Chamber became owners of it’s own space located downtown St. Joseph in the heart of the business district. Our members and community partners now have a convenient place to work and hold meeting making the chamber the true hub of the business community. 

November of 2018 saw the signed affiliation agreement between the Cornerstone Chamber and the Greater Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance (CGA), adding an additional 100 members, a second office in Bridgman, and laid the beginning stages for a more regional based chamber in Michigan’s Great Southwest. 

As we continue to create partnerships and enjoy unprecedented levels of membership participation in networking events, it is increasingly clear that these are, in fact, the good old days!

Our Staff

Arthur Havlicek

Arthur Havlicek

President & CEO

Sarah Spoonholtz

Sarah Spoonholtz

Director of Membership & Events

Our Board

Mark Lemoine

Mark Lemoine

Board Chair

Owner & Managing Partner
Coloma / St. Joseph KOA Holiday
Olivia Starks

Olivia Starks

Vice-Chair

Bruce Piekarski

Bruce Piekarski

Treasurer

Commercial Group Manager
Horizon Bank
David Costas

David Costas

Secretary

General Manager
Silver Beach Pizza
Barbara Antonucci

Barbara Antonucci

Owner / Innkeeper
Among the Vineyards B&B
Robert “Bob” Clark

Robert “Bob” Clark

Township Treasurer
Lake Charter Township
Matt Derby

Matt Derby

Zack East

Zack East

VP of Engagement & Experience
Mid-West Family - SW Michigan
Dr. Jim Gendernalik, DO

Dr. Jim Gendernalik, DO

Judee Hopwood

Judee Hopwood

President & Co-Owner
Williamson Employment Services
Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

Thomas Norbey II

Thomas Norbey II

Craig Anderson

Craig Anderson

Donna Hill

Donna Hill

Owner, Stylist
Attitudes Salon
Kim Pichot

Kim Pichot

Assoc. Professor of Marketing
Andrews University
Joan Walters

Joan Walters

Dave Clark

Dave Clark

Sandi Kopach

Sandi Kopach

Lauren Potts

Lauren Potts

Luralynn Wright

Luralynn Wright

Account Manager
Thayer, Inc.
Jeremy Dybdahl

Jeremy Dybdahl

Nancy McDonnall

Nancy McDonnall

Bob Rogers

Bob Rogers

Priority Responder
ServPro of Berrien County
Jo Farrell

Jo Farrell

Account Manager
MailMax
Phyllis Palmer

Phyllis Palmer

Tanya Urias

Tanya Urias

Branch Manager
Honor Credit Union