(BLACK PR WIRE) – In reflecting on his eight years at the helm of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, outgoing president/CEO, William “Bill” Diggs shared some heartfelt thoughts on his tenure.
“For me and my family, the Miami-Dade Chamber has been my life. In my previous life, I was flying a lot to other parts of the U.S., as I was working for a firm that had clients all over the country.
So a part of me was apprehensive about venturing into a new career in economic development and networking, but a part of me was excited about the prospect of watching my children grow up and me growing a burgeoning black business organization.
“Those early years in my eight-year stint were fraught with challenges and rebranding. Times had changed and Miami was going through a process of finding itself. In the midst of that rebirth, our chamber was not invited to the table to be a part of that rebirth. So what we decided to do was to challenge the status quo.”
Under his leadership, the chamber developed advocacy initiatives that have increased the technical proficiencies of black-owned businesses, and built new programs, including The Business Empowerment Series (BENS) and the Urban Partnership for Prosperity Program (UPP).
Through those programs, the chamber played a pivotal role in several “firsts,” including positioning Foster Construction to be the first African-American firm to build a Burger King from the ground up.
The chamber’s membership growth escalated and developed tiers of member-based support — including a new thrust toward gaining more trustee-level members — and became a winning program such that virtually every large business in Miami has joined the chamber over the last five years.
“Some folks wonder how can we service the small businesses if we have large businesses as members? I always say that if you are to be successful you must sell your product upstream,” said Diggs.
Other key accomplishments include the Marlins Stadium Joint Business Venture, in which the chamber crafted a
Community Benefits Agreement between the Marlins, the NAACP and the chamber.
The agreement brought jobs and significant contracts to chamber members, and has since positioned the chamber as “the” go-to organization for economic development in the black business community, empowered to create partnerships with The Beacon Council, The Miami Dolphins, Resorts World Miami, South Beach Ace (the Miami Beach Convention Development Team), the University of Miami and others, while securing multiple millions of dollars in contracts for businesses of color.
“This departure for me is the right thing to do at the right time,” says Diggs. “Our chamber is poised for next generation growth because of its staunch Board of Directors and the many committees that we have built up.
We have arguably the fastest growing Women’s Business Committee in Florida. We have launched and sustained a Young Professionals Network that has been emulated by other chambers. We rebirthed our advocacy, construction and marketing committees to ensure continued growth.
“So my leaving the chamber marks the renaissance of one of the best vehicles in Florida for building better communities in the urban core. I look forward to working with Jesse Brooks in his role as interim CEO of the chamber, and I urge everyone in our community to continue to support the chamber as we transition to new leadership. I am grateful for the opportunity of being CEO of the best little chamber that could — The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. I am leaving the position but never the chamber.”
To learn more about the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, call 305-751-8648 or visit m-dcc.org