When Tammie Bailey-Fults first opened a business in Doraville she was surprised to learn that the city had no chamber of commerce or local business association. She was told that there had been past efforts to start a chamber, but they never got off the ground.
“I’ve been active in chambers of commerce for decades—even in college—I know the difference they can make. Doraville has such a vibrant business community; it really needed an organization dedicated to supporting its businesses,” Bailey-Fults said.
Bailey-Fults became involved in Doraville’s business and community life and at the urging of many in the city she ran for city council. “I didn’t win, but I have never regretted running. It prompted me to think deeply about what I want for this community. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet people and let people meet me. I learned that so many residents are business owners.” Along with others who wanted to make it happen, Bailey-Fults was able to get Doraville Chamber of Commerce up and running.
“Although we launched the chamber with a pandemic going on, we were able to meet at some of our local restaurants that have outdoor patio seating,” she recalled.
Today Bailey-Fults is CEO and president of the Doraville Chamber of Commerce and recently helped create what she called the business organization’s “groundbreaking inaugural business expo,” predicting that it will be an annual event and the chamber’s “flagship event poised to redefine networking dynamics.”
Celebrating its second anniversary, the chamber held its first expo on September 14 at the Holiday Inn & Suites Atlanta Perimeter-Dunwoody with 25 exhibitors. “It’s been an amazing two years and we’re continuing to grow,” the chamber president said.
Bailey-Fults described the expo as “a gateway for both members and non-members of the business community to spotlight their enterprises and catalyze valuable connections,” adding, “For the diverse business community, this event is an unparalleled opportunity to engage in meaningful interactions, unlock new partnerships, and lay the foundation for lasting collaborations. With the vibrant atmosphere of the expo setting the stage, entrepreneurs have the privilege to connect with like-minded professionals, explore synergies, and meet potential clients.”
In addition to providing a networking opportunity, the expo celebrated what Bailey-Fults called “the chamber’s remarkable journey over the past two years.” There were guest speakers representing local, state, and national government in addition to representatives of member businesses who gave overviews of their enterprises. She said one of the chamber’s roles is to act as a bridge between business and government.
The Doraville Chamber of Commerce is unlike chambers that focus on the large companies within its membership, according to Bailey-Fults, who said, “Since its inception, the Doraville Chamber has emerged as a vital resource hub for small businesses, acting as a conduit for pivotal conversations.”
Doraville, Bailey-Fults said, is a unique multi-cultural community known for “all the wonderful international tastes” in restaurants representing cuisines from across the globe. “We want to provide the support these businesses need and may not be receiving sometimes because of language barriers. We want to educate, inform, and connect our members,” she said, citing such events as a recent presentation on how to do business with the city of Doraville as an example of tools the chamber provides its members.
She said for many years Doraville was known as the site of a large General Motors plant. Since the plant closed in 2009, a great deal has been going on in the area and it’s a story that needs to be told, Bailey-Fults noted. “Many people come and park at the Doraville MARTA station before going to work in Atlanta. We want them to know that we’re more than a convenient place to park. We want them to come and learn about Doraville today.”