I caught up with Michael Chait, who officially took the reins as president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce late last year. Chait is following in the decades long Chamber leadership footsteps of Joe Kelly, who retired last year.
Chait is a dynamic individual who started with the Chamber and quickly became an asset to the membership-driven group. His skills were applied at everything from smaller networking events to the annual Atlantic City Airshow, the Chamber’s signature event. So let’s get to know him with a Q & A. Here is “Eight with Chait”;
Joe Molineaux: How excited are you to be leading the Chamber?
Michael Chait: I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to lead the Chamber. Having the board of directors unanimously approve me succeeding Joe Kelly, after his extremely successful 23-year career, was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Molineaux: What drew you to the opportunity?
Chait: I was born and raised in Atlantic City. The opportunity to work with industry and community leaders that share a common goal of creating economic prosperity within our community was and is extremely appealing. It’s my home. Now I can contribute to making the area a better place to live, work and play.
Molineaux: What do you enjoy most about working to support the business community in the region?
Chait: I learn something new every day. Listening to the successes and challenges of industry leaders, business owners, educators, entrepreneurs, elected officials and so many more gives me an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. It’s a wealth of knowledge right at my fingertips.
Molineaux: What new initiatives are you working on for the chamber?
Chait: We have four committees that work on separate initiatives. They are economic development, public policy, events and membership. Each committee is comprised of volunteers who want to have an active role in the Chamber's efforts. As you can imagine, we cover a lot of ground with those committees, and there are no shortages of initiatives for us to work on. Having said that, all committees have been involved with our efforts to build a coalition in support of basing the F-35, a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, at New Jersey’s 177th Fight Wing, stationed at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base. The U.S. Air Force will decide where the next F-35s will be stationed in the next year. We recognize that 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County has an unparalleled strategic location, uniquely positioned between Washington, D.C., and New York City, and that bedding the F-35s at the 177th will allow the Air Force to maintain its air dominance against a challenging and potential threat. We believe the best place to put the F-35s is right here in Atlantic County at the 177th. The support of the community is critically important. We welcome any organization to join this coalition or at the very least, contact us to learn more about how basing the F-35 at the 177th addresses national security and economic growth to our area.
What are some of the challenges of running a Chamber that does so much for so many?
I think you hit it on the head. The challenge of running a Chamber is trying to be so much for so many. We encourage our members to bring the good, the bad, and the ugly to our attention. But the reality is we cannot be everything to everyone. Our board of directors, committees and executive leadership team do a tremendous job at keeping our efforts in line with our mission and priorities. This challenge also creates opportunities for our members. If there is an issue that isn’t necessarily in line with our mission, there is a good chance that it is aligned with another member. We are happy to share the information and help that member make a connection.
Molineaux: Tell us about your support system, your family, friends and how you balance time and energy.
Chait: Time is the most valuable commodity. I think we all strive to have a better work-life balance. It is critical to balance the demands of your career and the demands of your personal life. Prior to taking the position at the Chamber, I discussed this with my wife, Kim. We’ve been married for 12 years and have two amazing children, Elizabeth, 9, and Michael, 7. And in the past year, we bought a puppy golden retriever, Toby. We are in the thick of youth sports. There is always something that must get done. Somewhere we must be. It’s not easy. My predecessor, Joe Kelly, stressed the importance of family. Our board of directors echo that sentiment. I am grateful for their appreciation of a work-life balance. Family is always first and the work will get done. It must get done, and you have to make time for your family.
Molineaux: When you are not leading the Chamber, what is your favorite thing to do?
Chait: I have a lot of interests. Food. Sports, watching and playing. But I think my favorite thing to do is sharing new experiences with my wife and kids. I get so much joy in creating lasting memories with them. For example, my daughter is doing great in school. She is working so hard and her grades show it. She is a foodie like me. As a reward, I’m taking her to Steve & Cookies for Atlantic City Restaurant Week. Just the two of us. It’s going to be so much fun. I can’t wait!
Molineaux: What does the future hold for the Greater Atlantic City Chamber and its membership?
Chait: The Chamber has a proud 115-year history dedicated to the creation of a favorable economic climate with meaningful services for the business community. Joe and the board of directors have built a strong foundation for the Greater Atlantic City Chamber to thrive. We will continue to collaborate with the public and private sectors to share information that enhances our ability to make the best decisions. We will continue to monitor legislation and be the voice of the business community as we advocate for the betterment of the region’s economy and quality of life. We will continue to develop a relevant portfolio of products and services that meet the evolving needs of the community. We are committed to working on strategies and tactics that will help build a better future for our region.
Thank you and good luck to Chait in his role as president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce.