SOAR Chamber Director Resigns, Rainbow Run Postponed
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 26, 2022)
Ferndale, Hazel Park, Oak Park, MI- Each year on the morning of Ferndale Pride, runners gather in downtown Ferndale donned in multi-colored outfits and tall rainbow socks celebrating diversity for the Rainbow Run. But this year the event has been postponed because the person in charge of organizing it has resigned.
The event is hosted by the South Oakland Area Regional Chamber of Commerce, formerly the Ferndale Chamber. The group rebranded just as the pandemic was starting in an effort to include Oak Park, Hazel Park and potentially other surrounding communities. But soon the role of Executive Director Joy Wells changed from collaboration and growth, to navigating an unprecedented time for small business owners. SOAR worked to get information out about regulations and business closures, resources for small businesses, and finding ways to help businesses connect with customers when they couldn’t in person.
Now as the world opens up more, SOAR had been aiming to get back to in person networking events, and fundraisers like the Rainbow Run. However, this year’s event isn’t happening. Wells resigned from the organization over the weekend, and the event has been postponed with a new date to be announced. Ferndale Pride, which is a separate event, will continue in Downtown Ferndale. For the full line up of events visit www.ferndalepride.com.
Because the news was unexpected, the Chamber board has declined making comment at this time, though they have confirmed the cancellation of the event and that Wells resigned to take another position elsewhere.
Wells told Oakland County Times “I remain grateful for the opportunities I have been provided in this position. Our effort to create a new brand that speaks a cohesive language to all involved communities allowed for the creation of a 1st of its kind board seat for Oakland County proper. With the formation of a dynamic board that included businesses and municipal partners a foundation for growth was laid that provides opportunities for all stakeholders to have a voice at the table.
“The pandemic created tremendous hardships for many. Proudly this organization was able to have one on one conversations with over 400 businesses to discuss emergency needs during the pandemic. Along with distributing over 3500 PPE kits to help facilitate a safe re-opening, it cannot go unsaid that SOAR was there to meet the needs of area businesses.
“It is my hope that SOAR will find a pathway for continued support as they move forward through the next challenges they will face. I have appreciated being a part of this organization and humbled to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. It is with deep respect and admiration to the board, the community partners, and to the business communities involved, that I wish for nothing but continued growth and prosperity today and in the future. I thank you for your partnership, your belief in the new chamber vision, and all your support in bringing said vision to life.”
SOAR’s mission is provide economic development, community and professional resources to help local and regional businesses succeed. Learn more about SOAR at https://southoaklandarearegionalcc.org.