Did you know there is more than one Midlothian?

Thursday December 28th 2023

Midlothian Texas

This article has been written by Karen Ritchie, CEO of the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce.

For two and a half years now I have been the CEO of the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce. I have spent a lot of time learning about the two areas, the people, the businesses and the councils, and how we all need to work together to promote ourselves as the best places to work and live. The new Visit Midlothian website www.visitmidlothian.co.uk does a great job at showcasing our area to potential tourists, both domestic and international, and we are lucky to have these assets on our doorstep.

Here comes the disclaimer – I’m not from the area, nor do I live here, but I see the potential. I currently live in Fife but hail from Angus and am an outdoors girl through and through. I love nothing more than going for a long walk with the dog, volunteering with Scouts Scotland, or helping out with my kids various sports teams. We are most definitely an active family.

For the October school holidays this year, we decided to visit friends who have moved to Dallas, Texas. Whilst searching google maps and the internet for “things to do” whist we are there, I came across an area 25 miles South West of Dallas called Midlothian. I was aware there was a Midlothian Chamber as sometimes we get tagged in their social media and vice versa by mistake, but I had never really looked at where in the world they were. Imagine my delight to discover that I was going to be staying really close to the other Midlothian.

On to the internet I went. After some google and LinkedIn stalking, I found the CEO’s details and sent her a message asking if I could pop in for a cup of tea. Melissa answered quickly and before I knew if we had set a date. The word got out, and all of a sudden my idea of popping in changed into a whole day, meeting with the board, the community policeman, education representatives, business owners and city leaders!

Which Midlothian came first?

According to local legend in Texas, Midlothian was named after a Scottish train engineer who remarked that the countryside reminded him of home. This was in 1883.

Midlothian Texas is a lovely area, with a population of around 37,000. This up and coming area is known for being a leader in the cement industry. With a beautiful main street, predictive sunshine and a mix of the old and new world together, it’s no wonder that the area has begun promoting itself to the film industry. The people and businesses are very proud of their town, as they should be, something echoed back home in Scotland.

What did I learn?

There are many similarities and differences between the two Midlothian Chambers. Both are dedicated to their members, and all events are designed with learning and collaboration in mind. Both teams are small but manage to fit a lot into their days, organising, promoting, engaging, delivering and sourcing new ideas. What I did like (that I will investigate implementing here in Scotland) was the ribbon cutting ceremonies held for new members. I attended one for T-Mobile who had recently joined up in Texas and was delighted to see how many members turned up to show their support. After cutting the ribbon with gigantic scissors, everyone there signed the ribbon as a memento of the occasion, a reminder of the community support on offer. The whole thing was recorded for social media, with the company details shared widely.

What I also liked was how closely the Chamber worked with Midlothian High School, running courses with pupils to talk about local history whilst honing business skills, and creating public art to showcase their learning. Pupils became more aware of what a Chamber of Commerce does and were therefore more likely to join when they started their own work journeys. Although we have a great relationship with DYW colleagues, we definitely can do more, utilising the skills of our member businesses to grow our home talent.

So where do we go from here?

We as the Chamber of Commerce are here to work with local people to enhance the area of Midlothian and make it a better place to work and live. If your business needs help, advice, or you would just like to network with likeminded individuals then get in touch. We welcome everyone, whether members or not, to our events which we have been told are relaxed and very friendly. If it’s your first time, let us know and we will ensure to introduce you to others, making the experience less daunting.

Our annual business awards are taking place on the 7th March 2024. This is a celebration of businesses within Midlothian and East Lothian, and we welcome nominations from everyone. Nominate your favourite takeaway, the accountant that helped you, or a company you know doing great things for local youths. Do you know an unsung hero? Let us know who it is and why they deserve to be the recipient of the “Local Hero” award. Further information can be found HERE.

What about our American friends?

Melissa and her team are looking at dates late 2024 to bring across a delegation of businesses and council members to visit our Midlothian. We have begun to liaise with Midlothian council and local councillors to arrange a civic reception and business breakfast with our members. If you have any ideas of what might make their visit special, or you would like to get involved, please let us know!

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