WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) – The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce launched a new initiative today aiming to help business owners and their employees learn better practices through real-life experiences.

In the words of Vice President of Membership, Events and Education, Mike Howard: “Chamber U is a unique opportunity to allow member organizations to train, learn, and network together, and quite frankly teach each other.” 

This peer-to-peer training initiative was officially launched by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce after months of research and development. 

The launch event kicked off with a business trifecta: coffee, breakfast, and networking. 

Attendees became familiarized with ‘Chamber U’s’ four cohorts: Leadership, Marketing and Communications, Sales, and Business and Human Resources  – each providing eight, 45-minute courses with an honorary ‘Dean’ who oversees programming.

One of these Deans is Laurie Conway, who assures that there is something for everyone. 

“We’re always a work in progress. There’s always something to be working on, to learn, and that none of us are perfect in our businesses and our careers, and that there’s always something to learn. So, even if you have a really successful business, you may find something really valuable in these courses that you feel like you want to sign up for them. So, that I think is the big goal for today.”

Laurie Conway, Director of Marketing and Communications, Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce

This initiative is starting in the Northern Panhandle, as classes are being held at the West Liberty University Highlands location, but there is potential for further expansion. 

The target audience ranges wide – from business owners to employees seeking future leadership and development, who will learn from community and business leaders giving real-life advice. 

Mike Howard, ‘Dean’ of the Sales cohort at Chamber U, says this is where the true takeaway lies.

“Hopefully, what’s going to happen is they are going to get experience from people who have already been there, and so, maybe you’ll learn a few potholes you can stay out of and pitfalls, but also just understand successful things they can take right back to their workplace to now in these areas.”

Mike Howard, Vice President of Membership, Events and Education, Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce

Chamber membership costs $195.00 and includes tuition for the eight classes in the cohort of your choice. Non-members can do the same for $295.00, and scholarship incentives are available. 

The projected timeline for the first year of Chamber U is mid-September through early December and after a holiday break – February through May. 

The Wheeling Area Chamber has more events and opportunities throughout the fall. More details on these, and how to get involved in Chamber U can be found on wheelingchamber.com