Efforts push for county-wide chamber
Feb 24, 2009 at 12:01 AM Feb 24, 2009 at 4:24 PM
A county-wide Chamber of Commerce may soon be forming. Sidney Chamber of Commerce officials are reaching out to the rest of the county in hopes of expansion. They’ve met with members of the Hamburg Kiwanis Club and are planning on having their next meeting in Tabor.
A county-wide Chamber of Commerce may soon be forming. Sidney Chamber of Commerce officials are reaching out to the rest of the county in hopes of expansion. They’ve met with members of the Hamburg Kiwanis Club and are planning on having their next meeting in Tabor. Mike Ross, the president of the Sidney Chamber of Commerce, says the transition is still in the fledgling stages. “There are lots of small towns in Fremont County and Sidney is the only one that’s been able to hold a chamber,” he said. “Our people are getting burned out, and, by reaching out to the other communities and bringing in some new people, we can really help keep things going.” Hamburg Chamber of Commerce voted to become “inactive” several years ago. In spring of 2006, John Sheldon, then president of the Hamburg Chamber, made a call for fresh ideas and more help. At the time, 916 surveys were sent out to Hamburg homes and only 12 were returned completed. By November no fresh ideas had come in and very few were regularly attending meetings. The group decided to become inactive rather than dissolving completely in case someone down the road decided he or she wanted to restart it. Its members went on to support Kiwanis Club as well as FREDCO and other community groups. In its five years of existence, the chamber held a handful of fund raisers and community events. Sheldon was among those invited to the Sidney Chamber’s meeting held at the Hillside Orchard. “I think it’s good. We need to start looking county-wide instead of only at ourselves,” Sheldon said. “It will bring the communities together and there will be a sense of unity.” Other Hamburg residents in attendance were Lisa Phillips, Dave Mincer, Amy Johnson and Marvin Oakes. Oakes, the president of the Hamburg Kiwanis Club, says he is excited for the county-wide group. “I was very impressed with their meeting,” he said. “Hopefully we can work something out with them... I’m in favor of it. We’re all small in size, and, since everyone is spread so thin, this would help everyone.” Oakes said his only concern is the group could become one-sided and the help given for other communities’ events would not be reciprocated. “It’s certainly worth looking into,” he said. Ross said the Sidney Chamber will continue moving their meetings to different locations around the county and letting people know about their plans for expansion. “This county really has a lot to offer if you look,” Ross said. “A county-wide chamber would really help. What helps Riverton, helps Anderson and every other town.” One of the projects the Sidney Chamber has been working on is creating a farmers market/flea market on the downtown square. “We do some pretty cool things in Sidney,” he said. “We want to show them how to do these same types of things.” In addition to community outreach, Ross says the main goal and purpose of any chamber is to help local businesses. “That really is what a Chamber is all about,” he said. Ross said he hopes a series of speakers can attend the chamber meetings to provide information helpful to small business owners in the area. “We’ve kind of decided it’s time to grow up,” Ross said. “All of us are struggling. If we had the help of the other towns we could all benefit.”