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Out With the Old . . . ?

Chambers of commerce will have to rethink their programs-or risk losing Gen X entrepreneurs.

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This story appears in the January 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Rebecca Frank started her Los Angeles graphic design studio, Starfuzz, two years ago, she plunked down membership fees to join not just one, but two chamber of commerce locations. "I thought the chamber was the perfect place to start," says Frank, 35. But she chose not to renew either membership the following year. "The kinds of opportunities they offered, besides mixers, were very dull and uninteresting," she says. "They really need an overhaul."

Frank is one Gen X entrepreneur who's bypassed the local chamber of commerce for other networking groups perceived as hipper and more entrepreneur-focused. Consider the Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO), a 5,000-member peer-learning and networking organization for entrepreneurs under 40, which gained 1,266 new members between June 2002 and June 2003-a new record. "We're averaging 1,000 new members every year," says Brien Biondi, CEO of YEO.

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