Nancy Peltonen became president and CEO of the Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce in September of 2015. Since then, she has grown membership, increased programs to benefit members, implemented signature events and advocated on behalf of the business community at the local, state and federal levels. Peltonen has helped lead Palm Bay from the “city with a future” to the “city of the future.”
What inspired you to take the professional path you have chosen?
My parents were very supportive in my career path, and they encouraged me to get my degree and pursue my masters. Originally I thought accounting would be my chosen field, but after falling asleep in one of my classes, I realized it didn’t interest me at all. I turned to marketing and management and never looked back.
How has your background prepared you for your current role?
My career began in Canada at the national chain Shoppers Drug Mart. As manager of a store with $7 million in annual sales, I oversaw
a staff of 50. Dealing with sales representatives to buy merchandise, dealing with inventory and budgets, and planning events to entice customers into our store all provided a great foundation for my current role. When I came to the United States, I volunteered at a local nonprofit where I was eventually employed for 14 years. Building relationships with the community was a huge part of that job, and it’s one of the most important aspects of my current position.
How would you define your role at the Palm Bay Chamber?
Visionary and collaborator are two words that come to mind. The direction of the Chamber, events we host, and growth and development are all my focus areas; however, none of this is accomplished alone. I see myself as a connector…whether it’s connecting a business with a referral or a resource, bringing in speakers to develop our members or connecting developers with city resources.
How important is building relationships with the local business community?
I’ve always believed in strategic partnerships and building relationships. We all know the saying, “People do business with those they know, like and trust.” The Chamber helps businesses make the connections to the resources they need to grow their businesses. Our mission is to serve, advocate and promote as the trusted voice for our business community. Collaboration and building relationships is the only way to make changes and move our community forward as a whole. As much as we’re a member-based organization, we’re an integral part of the fabric of Brevard County. We must collaborate with our members, community groups and legislators at the local, state and national levels.
Collaboration and building relationships is the only way to make changes and move our community forward as a whole.
– Nancy Peltonen
How would you define the relationship between the Chamber and Palm Bay?
Fabulous. The City of Palm Bay is our largest trustee. City management and council members frequently attend our events to support local businesses, and I constantly provide them with updates. Palm Bay is the largest city with the largest landmass and is only about 42% developed, so there’s room to grow. The Chamber has been working closely with the city as numerous developers reach out to us. It’s exciting to think what future impact our present-day decisions will have on the development of this region.
How does technology help the Chamber with outreach and other initiatives?
Technology is our lifeblood, as it is for all businesses. It keeps us connected, informed and engaged. Each month we livestream our Chamber Chat, which is a one-hour informational session on topics ranging from how to get financing for your business to best personnel practices or how to market your business. This saves time for our members so they can watch from anywhere without having to drive to another meeting. We also have a texting service that allows members who sign up to receive notices and reminders about events or emergency notices as they arise. Our website allows businesses to signup online, saving them time. Chambers can be seen as stodgy and old-fashioned, but we’re always looking for new and better ways to engage our members, and technology is definitely assisting us.
What is your No. 1 goal for the Chamber?
Meeting the expectations of our members is my ultimate goal. The Chamber gets involved in a lot of things, but our members are my No. 1 priority.
What do you love the most about Palm Bay and the Space Coast region?
Palm Bay is very welcoming, with friendly people who are diverse and very supportive. I love all the Space Coast has to offer. Because we’re
such a cool county, we can watch cruise ships sail out of Port Canaveral, a rocket launch into space, numerous plays in various venues and parades throughout the year. We can see military planes flying into Patrick Air Force Base as well as Surfing Santas, go swimming in the ocean or paddle a kayak down Turkey Creek while watching manatees and dolphins. I love knowing we have some of the most ground-breaking technology companies in the world located here. It’s truly a fabulous place to live.