Mount Pleasant is home to a business organization that is actually growing at a faster rate than the town itself.
Buoyed by East Cooper’s population explosion, the success of its annual Expo, its close relationship with the town and the enthusiasm and hard work of the volunteers who run the Mount Pleasant Business Association, MPBA is more vibrant than ever. In early August, the group’s membership included 244 local businesses.
“We are obviously meeting the needs of our members,” said MPBA President Chris Staubes, who assumed the helm of the organization in the spring of 2015. “What we’re doing must be resonating with local business owners.”
So what exactly is it that MPBA is doing? It’s a networking organization that gives local businessmen and professionals the opportunity to get together and share ideas at least three times a month. But MPBA also is defined by its philanthropy – its contributions to local charities, help to those in need with its annual un-food drive and the college scholarships it awards to deserving students.
Established in 1992 as the East Cooper Merchants Association, the group’s membership has more than doubled in the past two years.
“We are growing because Mount Pleasant is growing, but that’s not the whole story,” said Staubes. “Our Expo has played a major role in attracting new members, and, in the last year, our Membership Committee, chaired by Shane Griffin, has done an outstanding job of recruiting new people to the organization and making them feel welcome. That makes a big difference.”
MPBA holds its regular meetings at lunchtime, the third Thursday of each month. Recent keynote speakers have included Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, local meteorologist Rob Fowler, Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page, Charleston County Superintendent of Schools Gerrita Postlewait and Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority.
In addition to its regular luncheon, the organization hosts two official networking events every month at local businesses: “Before Nine” and “After Hours.”
MPBA’s main event is the Mount Pleasant Business and Community Expo, held each year at the Omar Shrine Convention Center. As has been the case for the past four years, all 74 booths have been sold for the Sept. 22 Expo. Billed as East Cooper’s Biggest Networking Event, the Expo historically attracts more than 1,000 visitors. This year’s goal, according to Co-chairs Frank Frazier and Sue Spearman, is to bring in a crowd of 1,500.
“The Expo continues to grow every year. As with MPBA in general, its success is the result of the hard work of volunteers. We have a lot of members who give of their time and talent to make MPBA a great organization, and that helps make Mount Pleasant a great place to live and work,” Staubes said.
“Our organization is dialed into the community like never before,” he added.
And MPBA is working with Mount Pleasant like never before. Business Development Officer Amy Livingston is a member of the MPBA board, and the town and MPBA are combining their efforts on activities for this year’s Mount Pleasant Business Appreciation Week, which culminates with the Expo. In addition, the town and MPBA have been hosting a six-month-long business education series, “Food for Thought,” where participants learn ways to advance their companies and to maximize business success.
“More than ever, we have a true partnership with the town of Mount Pleasant,” Staubes commented.
By Brian Sherman