Since 1988, the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce has been an innovative leader in bolstering local businesses in economically diverse and respected ways.

“We’re a little bit different from some of the smaller community chambers because we’re looking 30,000 feet down to see what we can do to benefit the entire area,” says Lorain County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Gallo.

A case in point is the chamber’s annual Focus Forward Lorain County Week, which will be a hybrid event this year. The weeklong series of events, which begins Sept. 13, is designed for Lorain County businesses, educational partners, elected officials and philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to discover groundbreaking ways to move forward in a post-pandemic world.

“The biggest concern on everyone’s dashboard this year is maintaining a vital workforce,” Gallo says. “It was an issue before COVID-19, but it’s an even bigger issue now. Over the past few years, there’s been a silver tsunami of people retiring with decades’ worth of experience and knowledge. That momentum increased during COVID-19. We’re going to have to get new people to replace them and make sure they are trained to do the job.”

Focus Forward Lorain County Week commences on Sept. 13 at noon. Grow with Google coach Lindsay Sims and representatives from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) will present Launch Your Business with Customer-Focused Marketing, an hourlong virtual workshop exploring ways small businesses can use Google to grow.

“The SBDC is one of our critical partners,” Gallo says. “They help entrepreneurs and small businesses develop plans, review hiring practices and apply for the loans which are essential during the pandemic.”

Ryan-St. Marie Insurance will host an in-person Business-After-Hours evening of networking on Tuesday night from 5 to 7 p.m. at the company’s Elyria office. It’s an opportunity, Gallo predicts, that will be a welcome one after a trying year of social distancing.

“I always say people do business with those they know and trust,” he says. “The event is a great way to get to know people as we slowly get back to normality and begin meeting in person again — as chambers around the world are starting to do.”

Focus Forward Lorain County Week also features an in-person workshop with Dan Rose, co-founder of management consulting firm Team Traction, on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lorain County Transportation & Community Center. He’ll discuss the Entrepreneurial Operating System that will help those in attendance understand the keys to building a sustainable business, get everyone focused on priorities and instill greater discipline and accountability throughout their respective organizations.

Thursday will be spent promoting Connect to a Cause, the Community Foundation of Lorain County’s annual 12-hour virtual crowdfunding event designed to support 65 local nonprofit organizations.

The week culminates on Sept. 17 with the fifth annual Economic Summit from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Lorain County Community College. Dr. David DeLong, president of Smart Workforce Strategies, a Massachusetts-based consulting firm that helps organizations find solutions to critical skill shortages and risks of knowledge loss, will give the keynote address titled “The Future of Work & Skills Gap Solutions.” Participants are invited to attend in-person or virtually.

“We want to make sure businesses realize there are specific practices they can put into place to help attract and retain workers,” Gallo says. “Focus Forward Lorain County Week will explore groundbreaking ways to do just that.”

For more information about the events taking place during Focus Forward Lorain County Week, including event registration and tickets for the Economic Summit, visit