Saguache Chamber of Commerce: Decade of Progress
The Saguache Chamber of Commerce held its annual State of the Chamber meeting last Tuesday, April 4. While a spring snow storm that dumped more than half a foot of snow in some areas of the San Luis Valley might have accounted for a sparse attendance, the report brought more than a ray of sunshine to the county seat.
Chamber President Barry Van Sant opened the meeting with the announcement of the results of the recent Chamber election. New board member, Theo Boudreaux with Joyful Journey Hot Springs was welcomed in as a Member-at-Large and Byron Williams, was re-elected as Vice President. The annual meeting continued after a few gracious comments from the newly elected, the new Saguache Chamber Board was seated as follows: Barry Van Sant, President, Byron Williams, Vice President, Jean Collier, Treasurer, Theo Boudreaux, Member-at-Large, Carita Ginn, Secretary. Congratulations to all and thank you for your service to the Saguache community.
The main presentation given by President Van Sant was entitled: A Decade of Progress. The Saguache Chamber of Commerce – as it is known today – was established in 2007. As it heads into its 10th year, it was time to look back and reflect on the progress made by this group of dedicated volunteers.
Through a series of photographs, Van Sant took attendees through the story of hard work and dedication starting with the renovation of the downtown core district in 2007. Most remember the ScSEED funding that combined with the county commissioners, town trustees, and local citizens’ efforts was able to move a dying rural community away from the edge of darkness. That upgrade set into motion a momentum that continues in Saguache today.
“These combined efforts have allowed the Chamber to exist, grow, and define itself,” explained Van Sant to a hardy group of ten chamber members who braved the spring snow storm for the presentation. “Today, the Saguache Chamber of Commerce is the largest community organization in Saguache County with membership levels hovering at 70 members.”
Each year, the Chamber focuses on three primary events: the Hollyhock Festival, the Art Festival, and the Fall Festival & Quilt Show. In 2016, reported Van Sant, these chamber events brought a combined 1,000 event-goers and an estimated $140,000 in monies inserted into the economy. That’s in addition to providing locals a chance to get out, have some fun and visit with their neighbors!
The chamber board also instituted several new programs which have proven to be informative and well-attended. The Saguache Chamber Speaker program invited local business owners to speak about their vetures and the service they offer so that folks would know what is available in Saguache. One of the added benefits to the program, stated Van Sant was a shared insight “that it takes a special person to live and work in Saguache and Saguache County, and hearing from our fellow members offers insight into the commonalities of our members and the methods used to make-a-go-of-it in an area of low income and population.”
Last year also saw the introduction of the new Chamber Sponsorship Program and two seminars, including The Basic Food Safety Program, which was a big hit with local restaurant workers as well as those who sell food at festivals during the summer. Each participant received a Basic Food Safety certificate and learned “correct and safe” methods of serving food to the public. This was one of the best-attended event and indicates that the chamber is on-track providing services and programs that are relevant to the membership and community it serves.
Looking ahead, the Saguache Chamber of Commerce is planning on two overarching activities as it celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
- Continue to make the Chamber Events bigger and better.
- Continue to expand the outreach and services provided by the Chamber.
In conclusion, stated Van Sant: 2016 was a banner year for the Saguache Chamber of Commerce. Revenues were up, membership totals were up, product sales were up, and several new programs brought new sources of income and larger expenditures back out into the community and citizens.
Congratulations on all of your success and hard work!
If you are interested in becoming part of the exciting momentum that is the Saguache Chamber of Commerce, memberships are a real bargain considering the benefits and programs; they start at just $25 a year!