Patrick Shurney of 3P Consulting presents at the Howard County Chamber’s first Small Biz Real Talk session. (Howard Chamber photo)

The Howard County Chamber always has been about small businesses and local businesses—but Adam Joss, chair of the chamber’s Small Business Committee and owner of The Vertical Connection Carpet One, is among chamber members who want to take things a step further. 

With direction from Howard County Chamber Board President Linda Ostovitz, the chamber has been working to strengthen support for small businesses. “The chamber recently began a Small Business Committee, a group of chamber members that report to the board of directors with a focus to deliver programming and other resources solely focused on small and local businesses,” explained Joss.

Beginning in early 2023, the Small Business Committee has since been rolling out programs and other events at all levels of the chamber. 

“Our very first event was an expert speaking about budgeting from a small business perspective,” explained Joss. “Since then, we have hosted different speakers, including a banker who answered questions about lending and borrowing.”

The Small Business Committee offers networking events as well, where people can enjoy coffee and bagels, sit down and talk about how business is going, and make an effort to connect with other small business owners, who often feel like they’re on an island.

“Personally, my hope and dream is to build a grassroots effort throughout the community to support local businesses,” said Joss. “What that looks like can vary greatly.”

He hopes to inspire people to shop locally. “I want to help the small business community,” he said. “A strong and prosperous small business community means we have a strong overall community.”

In other words, strong small businesses strengthen all of us, Joss believes.

“Small businesses provide the jobs,” he said. “I’m not sure the average resident understands the need for supporting local businesses, so I really want to share that message.”

And growing a small business isn’t easy, Joss acknowledged—but the chamber will help. Among other resources, you’ll make new friends, Joss added. And you’ll stop feeling like you’re on an island. 

“Small business owners and managers are often caught up in the day-to-day,” he said. “We do it all, from taking out the trash to helping clients.”

As small business owners are busy doing whatever it takes to thrive, the Howard County Chamber offers an oasis of support. “Everything is important. At times, it can be hard to step away in the middle of the day for a networking lunch—or difficult to be on a Zoom meeting when the phone is ringing and customers are waiting.  It’s hard to get out!”

When Joss joined his family business, he knew he wanted to grow it. “I wanted to get involved in the community and meet new people,” he said. “You never know what will come from a new introduction or relationship!”

The first place he thought of was the Howard County Chamber.  “I don’t remember a specific event, but I knew the chamber was a great starting point,” he recalled. “As I grew in my career, I quickly learned that you get out what you put in.”

He believes that simply paying dues to an organization or attending a few events won’t cut it. “You have to get involved!” he urged. “Joining a committee, or board or contributing in other ways is the only way to form lasting relationships.”