Chamber of Commerce Off to a new start
|The downtown Price area, as viewed from the Crown Theaters entrance, is impacted greatly by the presense of both the movie theaters in the area. Construction on both sides of the Crown are demonstrating that the downtown area is being revitalized and hopes are that more businesses will consider staying open in the evening, when many residents say they would like to shop.|
The Carbon County Chamber of Commerce is now in its 54th year, created by a group of concerned businessmen who bonded together in 1950 to ensure the longevity of their businesses. In both cases, local businesses and the chamber, not every period in those years has been prosperous and successful. But just as the economy goes through peaks and valleys so has the local chamber.
The past year was a rough year for the local chamber. Following a dismal attendance at a rodeo the chamber sponsored last summer the board found itself in a serious financial condition.
But with every disappointment and challenge comes new answers and when all the dust settled there were six board members willing to meet and discuss not only what happened last year but what the next step could be. Included was 2003 president Tracy Thurgood and immediate past president Nicole Steele, along with Nick Tatton, Jeff Manley, Shane Baggs and Ken Larson.
One of our first recommendations was to turn over the fiscal responsibilities to Price City and have the city act as their fiscal agent. This includes check cutting, payables and receivables.
As the group brain stormed about it's future several new and exciting concepts were ironed out. Being a Chamber of Commerce member has always meant a lot of different things to different people. To most, it means getting and staying involved in efforts to improve the community. It means speaking out on important issues that affect business. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce means meeting other business people in the county and working collectively to accomplish whatever is necessary for business to survive and be profitable.
In January the board selected Ken Larson, publisher of the Sun Advocate, to serve as its president in 2004. He, along with 11 other board members were installed as officers of the chamber on March 17 at the College of Eastern Utah Alumni room.
"It is our goal and objective to provide leadership and direction for a strong and healthy economy," said Larson addressing a group of over 60 community leaders at the banquet.
Beginning Feb. 1 Ann Evans joined the Chamber as the new coordinator and has had her hands full planning events and coordinating efforts as the chamber launched its new program.
"The six of us were determined to keep our chamber alive and well," said Larson, welcoming Evans to the organization. "Her business background and people skills are exactly what we need to move forward. This year we are going to focus on the importance of networking within our ranks and our businesses. We feel our greatest asset is to understand all the services and products that are offered in the community and add value for all members."
Bim Oliver, Utah Main Street Program coordinator, was the guest speaker at the banquet before the installation. He provided valuable tips on marketing and advertising and discussed the effects of a recent survey on the perceptions people have of Price's downtown. As state coordinator of the Mainstreet Program, Oliver helps communities build vibrant downtowns through a comprehensive, integrated program of historic preservation, business growth and marketing.
Evans, along with Thurgood, are coordinating all new business ribbon cuttings and so far three celebrations have been held with plans for several more the next couple months.
Evans will oversee the continuation of informative monthly luncheons, but this year members will see these focus more on community growth, such as CEU, city and county government, medical services, economic development, gas and coal development, tourism, education and retail.
Two very well attended luncheons have already been held this year. The next noon luncheon on April 22 will feature Wilson Martin and a program on Utah's Heritage tourism. This will be held at noon at Ricardo's Restaurant.
The chamber will also launching its first monthly Business After Hours on Tuesday evening from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Sun Advocate. Each month one business in the community will host a gathering where local business people and government officers can casually gather to visit about their enterprises.
"We can learn more about other businesses, their operations and contributions to the community in a casual setting," explained Larson.
A new membership campaign will also be launched in April.
"Membership opens doors and provides opportunities for people to get involved in our future," stated Larson. "It gives people a chance to make suggestions and bring new ideas to the table on making this a better place to work and live."
As the county continues to experience growth and change, the chamber faces new challenges and opportunities.
"We need everybody's input," stated Larson. "We are looking for new and better ways to serve our members and the community as a whole. As our membership grows, we will have more financial resources and volunteers to help carry out our goals and objectives."
In his speech following the installation of officers, he told the group that he believes "the chamber is a partnering organization and it is my goal to continue networking and partnering with various agencies in the community." He said the chamber will be teaming up with the economic development committee, the Tourism Bureau, CEU, Carbon County and Price City to form "a more aggressive and effective convention bureau."
Another opportunity that is on the horizon lies with the work through Price City and a committee of private businesses to develop a "Mainstreet Program," to enhance the retail industry in Price. One component of this goal is to establish a more visible and aggressive retail development plan.
In addition to this the chamber and the Mainstreet Committee will sponsor a national marketing and advertising executive in Price. Marketing expert Doc Croucher from San Diego will lead a workshop April 20 at the Red Lion.
The Chamber of Commerce is also planning a mainstreet cleanup program for April 10 in conjunction with the Community Progress committee of Price City.
Another major celebration happening on Main Street is being scheduled for July 16 and 17. It will be co-sponsored by the chamber and Zion's Bank with a Crazy Days theme and will also feature all the areas non-profit agencies.