Local Chamber of Commerce looking for recommendations

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

This past January, approximately 160 businesses, organizations and individuals were sent out a questionnaire from the Caledonia Area Chamber of Commerce. The reason for the questionnaire was simple. The chamber’s board of directors wanted to find out what the wants and needs of the Caledonia area was when it came to the local Chamber.

“We only got 32 responses back, which was a little disappointing,” noted Chamber President Karen Ness last week. “But we’re going to take the information we received from the responses and move on from there.”

Ness said the responses were either very positive or very negative. On the negative side, respondents didn’t think the Chamber was being very involved in the community.

Reasons why the Chamber didn’t meet expectations included:

• Too retail focused and have not addressed public policies.

• The Chamber only seems to work with businesses in the city limits.

• People didn’t know the Chamber’s vision.

• Chamber is very selective on who is promoted and supported around the community.

• The Chamber appears to be lacking visibility in the community.

• It needs greater participation, including my own.

• There are very few events and the respondent was never invited.

As far as what the Chamber could do to better serve its members, suggestions included:

• Focus on objectives listed.

• Include the entire Caledonia AREA.

• Promote the positive things about Caledonia.

• Chamber members need to be more visible in the community.

• Promote businesses and tourism.

• Work on getting more business, promote itself, keep citizens informed about accomplishments.

“Because we have several new persons on the Chamber board, we’re going to spend some time looking at redefining the role of the Chamber,” Ness said.

The Caledonia EDA will be hosting a meeting April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Caledonia City Council chambers in an effort to try to pull the various groups and organizations in the community together for a brainstorming session on developing an expanded community celebration. Ness hopes that discussion will also be held on the role of the Chamber at that meeting.

“We’re open to suggestions as far as what area businesses would like to see us doing and also meeting times. It is really difficult to please everyone as far as meeting times. Our next meeting will be Wednesday morning, April 11 at 8 a.m. at the Four Seasons. We have invited representatives from Mn/DOT to explain the summer highway projects,” Ness added.

Current Chamber board members include Ness, Vice president Julia Crawford, Secretary Lloyd Swalve, Treasurer Dianne Schuldt and directors Eric Halverson, Jane Palen and Carla Gavin.

You can contact Charlie Warner at charlie.warner@ecm-inc.com

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