Months after the abrupt closing of a local business networking group, many former members of Keller Business Connections came together last week in a new organization that intends to have more "accountability and transparency," while continuing the "momentum that had been growing."
Connect! in Keller came together Thursday for its first luncheon in what leaders are calling the group’s "soft launch."
The new group formed about a month ago, said Arica Davis-Frimpong, a member of the organization’s leadership committee, as members wanted to continue to network in the North Tarrant County area, even after KBC closed its doors around the end of summer.
KBC was formed in 2013 by Keller businesswoman Melissa Steen "to unite local commerce and the community," as its website says. As executive director, Steen, a former member of the Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce, became active in the community and quickly grew the organization.
It had more than 900 members when she told the board earlier this year that she was shutting it down.
But the group of area businesses still had momentum that many of the largest members are hoping to carry over into Connect! in Keller, leaders said.
Steen did not respond to several attempts to contact her. The KBC office space in Old Town Keller listed on the website is empty. The leasing company for the property said the KBC no longer leases the space.
The KBC website www.kellerbusinessconnections.com is still up, and the telephone kicks over to a voice messaging system when called.
While the official reason for KBC closure has not been released, Davis-Frimpong, a vice president for Regions Bank, said Steen cited health issues when she sent the email in mid-September that she was shutting KBC down.
"I’m sure it was not an easy decision to come to," Davis-Frimpong said. "KBC was her life."
KBC membership levels ranged from $75 to thousands of dollars.
Members shouldn’t expect to receive any money back, Jackie Black, a Connect! in Keller leader, said during a Q&A session after Thursday’s luncheon. Members appeared concerned with the status of the money, but many voiced agreement that little is to be gained pursuing what was KBC and they should instead focus on the present and future.
"Whatever was KBC is over, said and done," Black said.
Many agreed that being a member of KBC was beneficial for them and their business, and hope the same from Connect! in Keller. As they move on, Black said the leadership team is learning to work together as a transparent leadership group with no one person in charge.
About 80 people attended the luncheon at The Keller Pointe. Connect! in Keller is preparing for a hard launch in January, when membership plans may be established. For more information, visit www.connectnkeller.com.