Weighing in on local issues

Chamber to take on more active role

The Craig Chamber of Commerce board is preparing to become a more active presence in community debates and decisions.

The board will be researching, reviewing and supporting or actively opposing several issues from now on, said Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director Cathy Vanatta.

"More and more of our members want us to take a more active role in the community and business community, especially on issues that effect the local business environment," Vanatta said. "We don't want to take on every issue that comes up, but we want to show support for things that are good for our community."

In the coming months the board will begin looking into the community issues of building a new hospital, economic diversification, building a recreation/convention center, affordable health insurance for small businesses and an improvement effort.

The Chamber of Commerce board will decide what issues to get involved in and what position to take based on a majority of the membership's desire.

"We'll set goals on community, chamber and member needs and do whatever we can to support making a particular project happen," Vanatta said. "A lot of chambers are doing this today, and it's something our members want to begin doing. If an individual is looking for support for a project or issue, it's hard to do it alone. We can pull together people that are needed for a particular effort. We can work with the city and the media and other organizations to help make a project happen."

According to Vanatta, the board already does some work of this nature by showing support for or opposing proposals that effect the local hunting industry. The move to expand the board's activities began in earnest after a Craig Chamber of Commerce retreat where Marianne Virgili, the director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, spoke on the importance of involvement.

The chamber's bylaws already allow for this increased involvement. The organization's founding documents call for work concerned with "the betterment of the community" and a "better business climate" for the area, Vanatta said.

Just as Vanatta expects the board not to get involved in every local issue, not every member will be happy with every position the chamber takes.

"We won't be able to please everyone on the board, but we'll look for a majority on what direction to go in," Vanatta said. "Most businesses appreciate any efforts to improve the economy or create a healthier business climate. If a number of our members feel a certain way on something, we'll begin looking at an issue and gathering information, and then back a plan and help get it going or take a stand on an issue.

"Craig is a great place to bring up a family it's a very healthy place in a lot of ways. We should do whatever we can to nurture our children, and if we can provide a healthy and prosperous environment for them, we really can't go wrong."

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