Members, this week marks my first anniversary with the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. As I write this newsletter and reflect on the past year, I cannot help but feel bittersweet considering the current events in our world and community. Nevertheless, I believe that it’s important to look back to do a better job moving forward. Back in April of 2019, I began a new adventure in my life. The Palisade Chamber of Commerce became my new focus and passion. I was hired to not only grow the chamber of commerce, but to build the community, and membership value.
Growth at the chamber soon became the new normal in every sense of the word. Active membership grew over 50% over the past year. In 2019, there were over 100 new members that joined our chamber family. In 2020, even under the stay at home order, that same trend continues with 30+ new members added thus far for the year. To put things in perspective here is the historical growth/year over the past decade: 31 in 2018, 19 in 2017, 20 in 2016, 8 in 2015, 16 in 2014, 9 in 2013, 6 in 2012, 6 in 2011, 13 in 2010, and 11 in 2009.
Not only did our membership grow, but our ambassador program grew as well. In April of 2019, the chamber had one official ambassador. Now the chamber has grown to twenty ambassadors. I would like to personally thank Ashley Rogers, Charlotte Wheeler, Chris Briardy, Christina Becker, Deb Tsakalos, Debbie Roletto, Deb Romaniec, Dixie Burmeister, Elisa Love, Ellen Scott, Jackie Roy, Jan Curtis, Janell Dawson, John Sabal, Kelly Murphy, Linda Findley, Lindy Franklin, Maria Johnson, Marie Granat, and Tiffany Derby for stepping up to the challenge and serving in our ambassador program. Our ambassadors assist with member relations, new member welcoming, ribbon cuttings, business after-hour events, our annual banquet, and festivals.
In 2019, we brought new member events. Our quarterly governmental affairs event titled “Your Community Over Coffee”, where elected officials, candidates, and town/city/county managers spend face time with our members. Other events include both our monthly business topic and non-profit lunch and learns. We also added two business leads groups this March, which include complimentary breakfast or lunch. Even our traditional events such as business after hours, our annual banquet, and the number of ribbon cuttings grew. This year our annual banquet event doubled in size and we were forced to find a larger venue at the Orchard River View.
Our Chamber festivals also set record attendance over the past year. Beginning with the 2019 Brews and Cruise Festival at a 42% increase in attendees over the previous year. The 2019 Palisade Peach Festival was more profitable than the year before. The 2019 Olde Fashioned Christmas also had record entries with our gingerbread competition and attendees for our breakfast with Santa. In 2020, the Palisade Board of Trustees approved our Father’s Day Weekend Car Show, although we are still awaiting the possibility of this event this year, it should be a success and bring much-needed traffic to the downtown businesses when it arrives either in 2020 or 2021.
Obtaining our member’s feedback and getting their business messages out has become a pleasure of mine. From coffee appointments with new members, lunch and or pie with existing members, and conversations with those around the community; I feel honored to meet such amazing people. The chamber’s social media presence, radio/TV exposure, and print including the Peach Town News, The Business Times, and Daily Sentinel also increased. This new promotional push has given our members and chamber events more exposure than ever before.
As I conclude this letter, I’m reminded that the personal interaction with our members and the community is what I miss the most right now. In the present, I find myself focusing on sharing COVID-19 education, planning for community safety with the county and state, connecting businesses to funding opportunities, the planning of reopening our economy, and the disastrous freeze that hit Palisade fruit growers last week. My days are spent filled with conference calls and webinars with chamber and economic development professionals across the county, state, and country. Emails and phone conversations with elected officials and asking for assistance for our community and businesses have become a necessary part of my day. On that point I would like to formally thank Governor Polis, Senators Gardner and Bennet, Representative Soper, and Commissioner Pugliese for fighting for our agricultural industry in Palisade and sending a request for a Disaster Declaration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week. Like many of you, I’m keeping my fingers crossed awaiting the Department of Agriculture’s response.
As we plan on our local economy beginning to gradually open up next week, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be your Executive Director. I wish you all well and look forward to working with you as we build our community and economy together.
Andrew M. Weber
Palisade Chamber of Commerce