Chaldean business community coming back to city in big way

The community that prides itself on diversity will soon be home to the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, now located in Farmington Hills. Moving with the chamber will be its affiliates the Chaldean Community Foundation and the Chaldean News, which together have 11 employees.

“We needed more space,” said Martin Manna, the chamber’s executive director. He said the organizations expect to move into new quarters within 60 days. The new offices will be located in a building currently under construction at Northwestern and Inkster.

The distance isn’t significant, Manna said. Their offices are currently located less than a quarter mile away. “We enjoyed our time in Farmington Hills,” he said, “but we’ve outgrown our offices.”

Since it was organized six years ago, the chamber has grown to include 1,100 members, Manna said. That includes businesses and professionals, he said, including almost 20 percent who are non-Chaldean.

Southfield is an ideal location, said Manna, “It’s so centrally located.”

Councilman Kenson Siver was among those who welcomed the Chaldean Chamber when Manna mentioned the move Monday at a study session of the council.

The Chaldean community has played a significant role in Southfield’s emergence as a city of diversity, he said. In his soon-to-be-published book on the history of Southfield, Siver chronicles the grown of the Chaldean community and its role in the city.

With the presence of Mother of God Chaldean Church, Southfield has remained the spiritual center for many of Oakland County Chaldean-Americans, but in recent years many individuals and businesses have migrated to such nearby communities West Bloomfield and Farmington.

Also welcoming the Chaldean American chamber is Ed Powers, executive director of the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “I can understand the chamber moving to Southfield,” he said Friday. “It’s a beautiful city, and it really is centrally located.”

The combination of livability and location has attracted – and will continue to attract business-oriented organizations, Powers said, “And we welcome them all.”

The new chamber in town won’t be a rival, Powers said, at least not in the traditional sense. “We serve different groups,” he said. “But we both serve the business community, and that’s a good thing.”