Member services top list of 2004 chamber goals

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In 2004, the Craig Chamber of Commerce board and members have resolved to focus on their members, develop a marketing campaign, expand and improve their building, and work on small civic problems.

Board members have dubbed 2004 "the year of the member" to publicize their commitment to increasing membership and improving member services.

The chamber currently has about 320 members, said Cathy Vanatta, chamber director. She estimated there could be as many as 300 potential members in Craig and the surrounding area. Many of those nonmembers include nonprofits and businesses run out of homes that many people aren't aware of.

To entice members to join, the board would like to offer more member-to-member benefits. For example, in April Vanatta plans to organize an expo for owners of home businesses to advertise their business to other chamber members.

Pam Thompson, chamber board president, is in charge of the drive to revamp the chamber's image and develop a marketing campaign. She said she thinks the chamber already has a good image, but it could use a bit more flair.

The plan is to develop a new logo to improve recognition of the chamber. The chamber's membership and relocation packets already look professional, but the plan is to add more color so they have more flash, Thompson said.

The establishment of the Economic Development Partnership, combined with the longtime presence of the Downtown Business Associa-tion and the Mall Merchants, means Craig's promotional groups risk duplicating services. To avoid that, the chamber's second goal is to work more closely with these groups to achieve shared goals.

"We have a lot of the same goals, so we need to become unified to work as a team," Thompson said. She cited the annual Art Walk as an event the chamber could assist the Downtown Business Association in promoting.

The chamber plans to develop a committee that will focus on developing and implementing small civic improvements. No project has been selected yet, but possible projects include hanging more banners to advertise city social events or landscape projects to beautify the area. This committee will be made up of chamber board members, ambassadors, and anyone else who is interested.

The chamber's last goal is a carryover from 2003. The existing building needs to be expanded, because the chamber is out of space in its current building.

Thompson said it's a "good problem to have." The chamber has outgrown its building and needs to expand to continue growing and improving.

Part of the renovation would include a 24-hour kiosk that would advertise local businesses and provide a telephone for visitors to contact businesses.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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