By: Darralee Mathews
Palisade Chamber of Commerce Director, Andrew Weber, has deep roots in Mesa County, five generations on his mother’s side. “My father,” he adds, “is Swiss. He is an entrepreneur.”
“I grew up here, graduated from Fruita Monument High School, and received a degree from Mesa State (now CMU) in Economics and Management and worked various jobs in the Grand Valley and Colorado Springs.”
His love of this valley is apparent in everything he does. He serves on the Mesa County Fair Board, Young Professionals Board, is a Mosaic Ambassador, a previous Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, former Fruita Chamber of Commerce Board member, and is a Grand Junction Lion. “I care. I get involved if it looks like it will benefit our community.”
“I believe in the community as a whole. Our Grand Valley towns are different, but we are all connected. If all of our communities are successful, we all do better.”
When Weber took the job at the Palisade Chamber, he had other options to consider but wanted to stay here. “My wife’s parents and mine live here. I chose Palisade so I could stay in Mesa County. I knew Juliann (Adams) and what great progress she had made with this Chamber. I wanted to build on that foundation. I really respect what she did in Palisade.”
A big test for any new Palisade Chamber director is Peach Festival. It is a major fundraiser for the Chamber and a big vehicle to promote Palisade. It has grown from a parade and a tiny fair in Veterans’ Memorial Park to a huge project filling Riverbend Park with booths, food, music, a bar, contests, and demonstrations.
“I survived my first Peach Festival. It is so good for Palisade. From peaches to grapes and beyond, agriculture in Palisade brings a lot to our economy; it is our history. “
“Agriculture is near and dear to me. Most people don’t realize how much Ag contributes to our economy. It is a great base for a stable economy. That is one reason why I am involved with the county fair. Ours has the second-largest livestock sale in the state. We need to continue to promote the diversity and growth of agriculture here.” Weber said.
Membership in the Chamber is up 30% since Weber took the job. “We have 314 members. I’m striving to meet with every new business member for coffee. It’s about relationships.”
We are also starting a new event for many existing members that will be called “You’re a big piece of the pie”. We will have a pie from Anita’s with many of our existing members. We will meet face to face and get to know them.”
“In addition to ribbon cuttings at new businesses and a weekly newsletter to keep members in the loop, photographer Jim Cox and staff member Hailey Coughlin are doing Business Spotlights where a chamber business is promoted for several days on social media. It is very popular and we are booked through January.” Weber said.
From being active several in valley organizations, Weber knows a lot of people in the valley and has started “Your Community over Coffee” at 13 Brix. The chamber invites several Grand Valley “dignitaries” and 40 chamber members for something like a “speed dating” event, at which time the members and dignitaries sit and talk for about 10 minutes then, the dignitaries change tables and talk to the next chamber member. After the event, the dignitaries and a handful of members did also take a tour of a business in Palisade, with transportation provided by Pali-Tours.
A past event featured County Commissioner Rose Puglise, new Town Administrator Janet Hankinson; District 54 Representative Matt Soper; Town Trustee Jamie Summerville; and Mayor Roger Granat. An upcoming event will include Palisade Fire Chief Richard Rupp; Ken Brownlee, County Assessor; Sheila Reiner, County Treasurer; Janet Rich, House District 55 Representative; and Cody Davis with Chronos, the developer of Cresthaven.
Presently, the Chamber is working on Olde Fashioned Christmas, but Weber decided that Peach Town News, which had fallen by the wayside with one thing and another, needed to be brought back to life. In addition to the feel-good about Palisade stories, it required “real Palisade news.”
“Information about what is going on in Palisade needs to be available to its citizens. We need to know about our economy, local government, crime – or the lack of it, arts, and education. It will lead to healthier, informed community.” he said.
“Palisade is a special place. There is so much going on here. We need to know about what is happening in the Town. We need to be proud of what is going on here. I want Peach Town News to be something the community – the locals – can be proud of, something to help support and build the ‘community’ in Palisade.”
Weber concluded, “We owe it to our citizens to be straight with them; to present them with facts and the full story about what is happening here. With those facts, Palisade can make informed decisions about what they want their town to be. It is the right thing to do.”