Mike Henry is the new business development sales manager for the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. He’s also a relative newcomer to Bellingham.
He and his wife moved here from San Diego three years ago, and the shine of Bellingham as a new, fresh place to explore hasn’t worn off.
“The pace, the people, the culture—it’s all positive and inviting,” Henry says of his new home.
Henry and his wife, Brittany, first discovered Bellingham when visiting his cousin who lives here. Like many people, the Henrys were immediately struck by the welcoming vibe and beautiful scenery.
Then there was “that moment” when they knew Bellingham was in their future.
“It was late August, a perfect summer’s day, at sunset,” Henry recalls. “We were at what now is Galloway’s, and Casablanca was playing at the outdoor cinema.”
“I was sipping on good Scotch, my wife had a cocktail. We looked at each other and said, ‘I think this is where we belong.’”
They began making plans to relocate and just four months later they had moved to the Sehome neighborhood while Henry finished up his degree in Communication Studies at Western Washington University.
The introduction to Bellingham via Western only served to grow his enthusiasm about his new home.
“I absolutely loved everything about my experience at Western,” he says.
After graduating, Henry set his sights on finding work that would allow him to cultivate his relationship with the community.
“I wanted to dive into the community and be a part of creating that culture I’d come to love,” he says.
That made working for the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce a natural fit. Henry not only had experience working with small, private businesses growing up but also had a knack for meeting people, which he attributes to moving around a lot as a child.
Henry’s dad was a developer, so his family of seven would routinely move to where his father’s work took them. He counts Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento and San Diego among his one-time stomping grounds.
“Building relationships came naturally to me,” Henry says. And as a kid who moved around so much, he jokes, “It was almost a matter of ‘survival.’”
That skill for connecting with people did not go unnoticed by Henry’s new boss, Chamber President and CEO Guy Occhiogrosso.
“Mike has an infectious energy. This energy combined with his love of this community makes him a great addition to the Chamber,” Occhiogrosso says. “He knows no stranger, so be sure to shake his hand or give a quick wave the next time you see him.”
Henry uses his people skills at the Chamber to welcome businesses into the fold by sharing the many resources the Chamber can offer.
New businesses are looking to create a buzz, he says, and the Chamber can connect those new businesses to the right people—other businesses or customers—who can help in their success.
“I want to help businesses differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd,” Henry says.
Keeping current Chamber members engaged and using Chamber resources is Henry’s other goal. Whether it’s networking, sponsorships or advertising, the Chamber wants to serve as a conduit to success and longevity for the business community.
In addition, Henry is looking forward to introducing new initiatives in the coming months to Chamber members, prospective members and the community at large. One idea he hopes to bring to fruition is bringing entrepreneurship outreach to the community, such as sending speakers to the colleges.
Henry says that, personally, the networking offered by the Chamber has been invaluable for not only building business connections but connecting to his community.
As a self-declared foodie, Henry says he’s really enjoyed connecting with the local food scene, including restaurants and farmers markets.
He’s also an enthusiastic convert to mountain life, and enjoys skiing and snowboarding—a sport he engaged in occasionally in Southern California, when he wasn’t at the beach snorkeling or surfing.
Henry says he and his wife really appreciate the changing seasons here and the bounty of activities that come with those seasons. It all contributes to the work-life balance they find so appealing.
“For us, the quality of life was really appealing,” Henry says. “This is a community we can be in for the long haul.”
To learn more about the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, visit bellingham.com.