Bishop Lyle Dukes: Leading the Chamber of Commerce Through Historic Times

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By Amy Falkofske

Bishop Lyle Dukes

Bishop Lyle Dukes of Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge

Bishop Lyle Dukes will be finishing his term as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce in July. Dukes joined the Chamber in the 90s, when there were two separate chambers, eastern and western. He had a desire to get involved with the community and help people.

“My initial heart was just coming in to see what I could do to help out and get involved, to meet people, to network, to enhance what was going on at that specific time in the business community,” said Dukes.

Just prior to joining the Chamber Dukes started his church, Harvest Life Church in Woodbridge. Before going full-time at Harvest Life Church, Dukes had a diverse background in the business world. He served in the military and as a personnel manager for the government. He then went on to be a computer programmer and serve as a credit officer for a federal credit union. Additionally, he holds a doctorate of divinity from Faith Bible College.

Becoming the Chairman of Board of Directors is a three-year process. It starts with being the Chair-Elect nominee, then the Chair-Elect and finally, the Chair. Dukes found himself at the helm of the chamber in a historic time, when the world was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He feels that the Chamber has handled it well.

“I think the greatest thing that we are accomplishing now challenge is becoming a service center of information, having a resource hub for all of our local businesses, helping them to obtain the SBA loan from the CARES Act and also facilitating connections with other members to get services,” Dukes said.

#businessSTRONG

The Chamber has also started an initiative on social media called #businessSTRONG to help businesses survive during this time.

“It’s really a campaign to keep our businesses going, to allow our businesses to survive,” said Dukes. He pointed out that one of the industries suffering the most is the restaurant industry. Most restaurants are shut down right now and doing takeout only.

“… [W]e’re trying to connect them with the resources they need to survive in terms of loans and grants from the government … [We want] to inspire the community to continue to support our businesses, and particularly our smaller businesses so they can make it through this period of time,” he said.

The Chamber as Service Center

The Chamber also has a page on its website dedicated specifically to helping businesses deal with COVID-19.

“I’m so proud of the chamber for transforming from our day-to-day operations to turning into a service center to help these businesses stay alive. This has been a very challenging time for a lot of our businesses. We’re providing daily updates on our website and our Facebook page for Chamber members, for all the businesses in our community, for all the employees in our community, and we’re trying to do our best to provide access to the information that people need by direct links and summaries for businesses at all different levels,” said Dukes.

Chamber Accomplishments

Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors at the Meet the Chamber Leadership Luncheon on Sept. 24, 2019

Dukes’s term as Chairman has been successful in other ways as well. He spoke about the Chambers five-year strategic plan which includes four pillars: 1) access, 2) advocacy, 3) knowledge, and 4) infrastructure.  The Chamber gives its members’ businesses access to resources to help them be successful and also advocates for them on a local and federal level regarding legislative bills that affect businesses.

Asked what it means for a business to be a part of the Chamber of Commerce, Dukes said, “It means that you’re connected to an organization that can give you the things that you need to succeed. You’re not able to go down and fight for some legislation coming through that may be detrimental to your success, but we are. That’s what we do.”

This year, the Chamber successfully opened up the Small Business Development Center at George Mason University that offers training on how to start a business and maintain a strong business.

Dukes Reflects on Serving as Chairman

Dukes said, “[Joining the Chamber is] one of the best decisions that you can make as a business owner. It’s a win-win situation for anybody that really wants to grow their business to develop to understand the other side that they may not be seeing of business, and it’s a good connection to make.”

Dukes has enjoyed his time serving as Chairman.

“I’m just incredibly honored to be selected to be in the group. There are bank presidents, lawyers and law firms represented … I’m a pastor of a church and just feel honored to be selected to be the Chair, but also to be a part of something that’s bigger than me to help enhance our business community on a local, county and regional basis. That’s been a big deal for me,” he said.

If you would like more information about the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, or you are a business in need of assistance during this challenging time, visit the Chamber’s website.

Amy Falkofske (afalkofske@princewilliamliving.com) is a freelance writer and photographer. She has a Master’s degree in Film-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs. 

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