by Marie Baker, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Investments.

What do you love about Durham? Monuts or Rise? Bulls games? Eno River Fest? Music? Blue Devils? Food? The local vibe and sense of community? The vibrant diversity? All of the above and more?

For me, I love it all…except (in full disclosure) my heart leans towards a lighter shade of blue. Many of us could build a ‘Top 100 things We Love about Durham’ list in less than ten minutes. This city has so much to offer and the growth we are experiencing is staggering.

Admittedly, I am a bit conflicted about this growth. I feel excitement over the rejuvenation of dilapidated living quarters, yet nervous such rapid growth will displace some of the long-term residents that make our city unique, gritty and real. As a business owner, similar fears permeate; it is possible small businesses may not be able to afford premium rent downtown. However, I must try to see the glass as half full and that this could be a good problem, as long as we continue to engage in thoughtful discussions about change. I am thankful for the progress ahead of us and being able to be an integral part of positive change for residents and business owners throughout Durham.

Which leads me to…how can we be an integral part of this positive change? By joining the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce – and engaging.

I often get asked, “Is the Chamber worth joining?” or “Do you get business by being a Chamber member?” If those are similar questions you have every year when renewing your membership, then I challenge you to think more about what you can do for the Chamber rather than what the Chamber can do for you. Simply existing results in very little productivity. You really need to invest in organizations, like the Chamber, to feel a positive return from it.

When I think about renewing my Chamber membership each year, I recall the nationally-published articles about Durham. I think about the revitalization of boarded-up homes. The construction of vacant office buildings into useful spaces for new entrepreneurs. And I am reminded of all that the Chamber has done for me, as a business and property owner. They support me in countless ways and yes, I do get business by being a Chamber member. But I want to support their efforts too – my membership does just that.

When I think about how I can do more for the Chamber, it is by engaging in their mission, continuing to educate others about the great things happening in The Bull City, maintaining a successful business, and giving back to my community.