Advancing Chaldean interests while educating public about people

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THE CHALLENGE: The chamber seeks to dispel negative perceptions and clarify misconceptions about Aramaic-speaking people, including Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs, while advancing the interests of Chaldean-owned businesses. The chamber is a partnership of businesses and professionals working together to strengthen businesses, increase job opportunities, encourage expansion and promote Chaldean culture.

“Despite the fact southeast Michigan is home to the largest Chaldean population outside of Iraq with an estimated 113,000 people living and doing business here, our community remains largely misunderstood,” said Martin Manna, executive director of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. “Our members are using their business savvy as a vehicle for metro Detroiters to gain a better understanding and forge a relationship with our community, which will benefit our entire region.”

The chamber is also committed to the plight of Iraqi Christians and helping refugees find sanctuary in southeast Michigan.

The chamber offers a variety of activities and services, both for the benefit of its members and the overall Chaldean community. Services include: economic, community and human resource development, public affairs and relations.

SOLUTION: In 2003, a group of Chaldean-American businessmen put up their own money to launch the chamber. Strong community relations, particularly to non-Chaldeans, a group that represents 15% of the organization’s membership, achieved subsequent growth. The chamber has partnered with Walsh College and United Way to conduct a survey that will detail the economic contributions of the Chaldean community to southeast Michigan.

RESULTS: The group has topped 1,000 members and remains committed to educating the public about Iraqi Christians. Goals include reaching 2,000 members by 2010, becoming the largest ethnic chamber of commerce, opening chapters in other states, partnering with other organizations, establishing a Chaldean Foundation, and repopulating and rebuilding Iraq. The chamber also plans to back Chaldeans seeking public office and candidates who are pro small-business.

CONTACT: 248-538-3700 or www.chaldeanchamber.comv To nominate a person, business or organization, contact business editor Randy Essex at ressex@freepress.com.

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