GRAND BLANC — After 17 years as president of the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce, Jet Kilmer has decided to retire.
“I still love the job, still like being able to help people and work with them and improve their bottom line, and make them more successful,” Kilmer said. “But I have my family, my mother turned 96 last month, and I just want time with her. I want time with my grandchildren, time with my husband. This job takes a lot of time, sometimes weekends, sometimes late at night. I just don’t want to be sorry I didn’t take the time to spend with my family.”
Kilmer worked for the Flint Chamber of Commerce for 10 years before taking the job in Grand Blanc, her home town.
“When I started here, we had a little over 200 members,” she said. “We’ve grown the membership, and it’s close to 375 at this point.
“One benefit of being part of a smaller chamber, the people and staff who run the chamber, who are your business advocates, they will know your name, know your company. Our membership is large enough yet small enough to have a personal relationship.
“I worked very hard to know who the members are, know what their business is and reach out to them and make sure they’re successful.”
Kilmer also has helped the Grand Blanc chamber become more active. It now offers eight annual events, including the festival that brings some 40,000 people to town over four days.
“With that (events) comes networking and being able to promote your company. It’s great exposure for a company to be in the midst of that, so people can see your company name.”
The events don’t just benefit the chamber members, they allow the chamber to give back to the community.
“When the membership said they were looking for a new event, we brought in the clay shoot,” Kilmer said. “We’re the only ones who do a clay shoot. It has supported soldiers, helped their families. Also, at this point, we’re supporting our two police departments.
“So, the chamber is an integral part of the community. It’s a great partnership with the city and township and schools. We all work together to do things.”
Membership in a local chamber of commerce is an important marketing tool for any business, she said.
“The role of a chamber is to be an advocate for businesses that join. They put their members first, promote them as much as they can, and they are the built-in cheerleaders. A chamber supports people who are members. So, being in a chamber, you have all of those people in the background pushing your name out there, pushing your products out there.”
Kilmer said she is grateful for having had the opportunity to meet so many people, some of whom have become close friends, and for them allowing her to help them achieve their goals.
“I can’t think of another job that would have given me that,” she said. “It has given me insight into the workings of a community, the wants and needs of a community, and how I can help make it happen. It gave me an opportunity to learn so much more about the community I lived in, as opposed to just being a resident and shopping here.
“I love this job. The person who takes this job is going to love it. If you’re gregarious, and you like being around people and being supportive and helping, this is the kind of job for you.”
Kilmer doesn’t have a final departure date. The chamber Board of Directors has hired a recruiter and has more than 80 resumes so far. She hopes the board will choose a new president by April.