Behind the Scenes: Kristin Beltzer
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
What brought you to Lansing?
I came home to Lansing after attending high school in Florida, to attend Michigan State University (MSU). I’d always wanted to be a Spartan! Getting an education at MSU and staying in the Greater Lansing community was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What made you stay?
After graduation, I was very fortunate to work in the Michigan Legislature, where I began a political career in the House and Senate. That experience was an eye-opener for me, in that it opened a world of relationships and opportunities that still, today, are important parts of my ability to move initiatives forward and help others connect and be successful.
I could see that Michigan had so many opportunities that were appealing to me to grow professionally and personally; I enjoyed working with people and learning about the political landscape and how policy impacts business, education, the economy and the quality of life within a community.
What are the typical duties included in your workday as an executive and member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) leadership team?
Chambers of commerce are fundamentally about growing business opportunities for their members and the business community at large. A lot goes into fulfilling this purpose and I love that my role encompasses nearly every aspect of how our members experience and benefit from their chamber involvement. At the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, I oversee all of our business development, marketing, communications, events and programming. Because of my background in public policy and politics, I also get involved in some of our government relations work.
We have an outstanding team that is passionate about and dedicated to giving our members opportunities to grow their businesses through relationship-building and a wide range of education and training programs that support growth. The LRCC takes our regional leadership role very seriously. As a team, we promote programming and initiatives that encourage economic advancement and job creation. Each of our 1,100 members requires something unique to find business success.
Neighborhoods including REO Town have experienced a resurgence and revitalization lately. What other positive changes have you witnessed?
I have seen tremendous growth in our neighborhoods, including: Old Town, REO Town, the Stadium District, the Riverfront District and even a recent reference to Green and White Town as East Lansing.
Old Town really sets the standard on building unique and energized pockets in Lansing that invite millennials, established professionals and suburbanites to experience diverse offerings. We enjoy visiting our members like Message Makers, Urban Beat, MEAT, Ozone’s Brewhouse and Cravings Popcorn in Old Town — and Board of Water & Light, Michigan Creative, Triterra, Quality Dairy and others in REO Town.
Impression 5 Science Center, located in the Riverfront District, is creating an educational framework for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to incorporate young people into the fabric of Downtown Lansing. We have many members — including local commercial associations — that are focused on placemaking and creating spaces that enrich the cultural experience for the young and old. These local communities are growing and supporting each other. It’s fun to watch the energy and enthusiasm.
What kind of tools does the Chamber provide for businesses and members to succeed?
Our entire team works relentlessly to deliver value and provide tools and resources that allow members of every size to thrive. At the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, we hear time and time again that the Chamber is the go-to networking organization in the region. We provide 60 events a year for members to engage with business and community stakeholders, political leaders and experts who can share leadership and organizational management insight.
Our monthly Lansing Economic Club attracts over 450 attendees regularly and is a platform that showcases key business leaders impacting organizations locally, statewide and nationally. In addition, our members enjoy access to exclusive discounts in insurance, education and talent development, office products, shipping and more, through our exclusive member-benefits programs. The business and community connections that the Chamber provides for our members are invaluable, and a key part of why our members are so engaged with our organization.
What other organizations does the Chamber work closely with to increase connectivity throughout Lansing and its neighboring regions?
We have strong partnerships with many of Lansing’s regional leaders, including the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) Grand River Connection, Lansing 5:01, Lansing Promise, the Lansing Black Chamber and the Greater Lansing Hispanic Chamber, as well as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals. We enjoy collaboration and working with many partners to advance businesses in the region.
How does the city of Lansing — from a businesses and economic perspective — compare to other middle-sized cities?
Lansing, as the 5th largest city in Michigan, is the nucleus of state government and the home to one of the nation’s top research universities, Michigan State University. The city plays a critical role in Michigan’s economy and diverse culture, and offers multiple recreational opportunities, including sports, arts, museums, parks and trails, festivals and concerts. Lansing is becoming a destination in Michigan and a community with exceptional potential.
How do you foresee the upcoming political leadership change affecting the capital city?
At the LRCC, we support leaders who want to advance economic initiatives and have a vision for competing in a global world. We endorsed Andy Schor for Lansing’s mayor, and we look forward to working with him and his team as the city enters a new era. Andy’s combination of building relationships, legislative and municipal experience, and history of assembling regional partnerships will certainly move the city forward and strengthen the Greater Lansing community.
What challenges exist for Lansing area businesses today?
Attracting talent is the number one issue that we continue to hear from the business community. We know many good and well-paying job opportunities exist throughout our region, but employers are telling us that finding people with the right combination of education background, skills, training and willingness to learn is a major challenge. Meanwhile, educators and prospective employees are telling us that job opportunities don’t exist. There’s a disconnect that, when left unaddressed, leaves our region and its key industries and employers uncompetitive, and good people without the jobs they need to survive and contribute to our economy.
We are looking at ways in which the LRCC can help bridge the current divide that exists between our employers and prospective employees. When we are successful, employers will have access to the talented people they need to grow, and workers and their families will have what they need to sustain themselves and enjoy all that this region has to offer.
What is next for the LRCC?
We are continually looking ahead for signs about challenges and opportunities our business community will face. Our mission is to build a climate where the region’s business community can thrive. It is an exciting place to be, and I remain energized about what
As we look toward 2018 and beyond, a key priority will be to bring business and education leaders together to address the talent gap and workforce need. As a region, we must capitalize on the fact that we have some very unique and special assets that few other places in the U.S. or world can claim: a hugely diverse economy built on advanced manufacturing; health care, insurance and financial services; biosciences; high-tech education; and more.
It’s a regional employer-base that values those with college degrees and technical certifications — those who dream of being an executive and those who dream of making things that work, and those who innovate the next best thing and those who make those innovations available to all. The LRCC continues to be the place where all of this comes together.
Every day, we work hard to make sure that businesses, large and small, have a willing, able and ready partner to help them succeed and prosper.
This conversation with Kristin Beltzer has been edited for space and clarity.