Reed City Chamber offers new mobile app

REED CITY — Using technology to connect residents with local businesses is the newest strategy of the Reed City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber just launched a new, free mobile app for iPhone and Android devices, which chamber Executive Director Chastity Eads says is user-friendly and offers the chance for residents and visitors to get better connected to businesses, sales, local news, job opportunities and local events.

"We wanted something where if someone was looking for a business they could go into our visual directory and find every way to connect with that business," Eads said. "They can put photo galleries on there, so if they have products or services that they want to highlight, they can put all of that information on there. It'll also show if that business has free WiFi.

"The app menu is pretty straightforward, but if we have members that need one-on-one assistance they can easily set up a time with me and I would be happy to stop at their business and get them logged in. New systems are sometimes scary, but we don't want our members to feel intimidated."

It also provides a way for chamber members to submit press releases, add events to a community calendar and keep track of important data.

"Members can go into their membership portal and set up their 'traffic-catcher' page and connect their website, their Facebook page and a contact form," Eads added. "Another thing members can see on their 'traffic-catcher' page is real-time results about how many people are seeing their information. It'll show how many directory hits they receive and how many people are searching for their business."

To download the app, individuals can search for "Reed City Chamber" in their phone's app store. So far, 135 members are listed on the directory, and Dan Lee of Farm Bureau Insurance is one of those businesses app users can access with a tap of their screen. Lee said he really likes seeing the community calendar in front of him and enjoys what the app can do for his customers.

"Every day I have clients who are asking me about contractors, stores, restaurants, inspectors or churches in our area," Lee said. "This app allows me to quickly do a business directory search for the category I want. I can then give my clients a name, address and contact number for that fellow chamber business member I want to refer business to."

Eads believes the app may be a way to increase chamber membership and also draw people into the city.

"First and foremost, we wanted the app to be able to have measurable services for the members, but we also want to be the mainstream network of the businesses in the area. With this app, community members and people who are just passing through can download the app and then the businesses are right there at their fingertips. The more businesses we have in the directory, the easier it will be to connect with them and create a network of sustainability.

"When I came on board at the chamber, one of the first things I wanted was a more organized system of handling our chamber membership and I wanted something that collected and helped with the functionality of the membership" she said. "We were using different system, and now this system combines it all."