Mount Pleasant Magazine Sept-Oct 2018 | | MPB mp business Professional Association, then, in 2010, the Mount Pleasant Business Association. That organization became the Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce, a member of both the South Carolina and United States Chambers of Commerce, just last year. In all of its manifestations, the organization has been a welcome place for local businesspeople to meet on a regular basis, enjoy a pleasant luncheon, hear an interesting speaker and, of course, network. But no matter the name of the business association, it was small. Membership hovered around 100, and those monthly luncheon meetings, even with local television personalities, the town’s police chief and leaders of prominent nonprofits as featured speakers, attracted only about 50 or 60 attendees. In 2015, Chris Staubes became president. An attorney with his own practice specializing in business law, he was an almost-accidental CEO for the all-volunteer organization. He had been a member and served on the committee that produced the annual Mount Pleasant Business and Community Expo when someone recognized his potential and urged him to seek a spot on the board of directors. Staubes was elected vice president of MPBA, and only a month into his tenure, the serving president had to step down due to other business commitments. Suddenly, Staubes was president. Today, the Chamber has more than 350 members, its monthly luncheon gatherings regularly accommodate 150 people and a host of other events and activities benefiting not only the town’s businesspeople but also the community as a whole have been put in place. Staubes is reluctant to claim credit for the Mount Pleasant Chamber’s explosive growth and adoption of innovative educational and community service programs. “We have terrific members and a great board,” he said. But the fact is that during his watch, this once-useful yet low-profile organization of merchants, professionals and representatives of charities has become a vibrant force for business knowledge and community involvement as Mount Pleasant has grown. The centerpiece event for the Chamber is the Business Expo, held each September at the Omar Shrine Convention Center. Open to the public and free of charge, it’s the one place where anyone can meet with the owners and managers of establishments they already (or don’t yet) patronize and learn more about their businesses in a relaxed and entertaining format. The Expo has become so successful that it is sold out for vendors six months in advance and is now an integral part of Mount Pleasant Business Week. Proclaimed by the mayor, the week features numerous activities showcasing various aspects of local commercial ventures. And there’s talk of growing this format into a Mount Pleasant Business Month. In addition to its luncheons, the Expo and Business Week, the Chamber also sponsors or hosts a wide range of activities and events throughout the East Cooper area. Its monthly Before Nine Coffees and After Hours events are well-attended, as are quarterly Food for Thought business education learning sessions. It’s not all eating, schmoozing, promoting businesses and having fun for the Chamber and its members. Giving back to the community is always a prime consideration. Among its public services are the Unfood Drive, which, as the name suggests, collects items such as toiletries, other sundries, cleaning supplies and more that are essential to local charities but fall outside the purview of drives that concentrate on groceries. The Chamber joins with other local organizations in collecting items for the Toys for Tots program and raises money to support its efforts. Its Philanthropy Committee reviews applications and allocates financial grants to nonprofits, not on a one-size-fits-all basis but geared to each The Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce board holds an annual retreat to plan for the coming year.