Chamber of Commerce OKs revised due structure

Visitor Center update

With the additional $7,000 approved by the Moffat County Tourism Association on Wednesday and $1,000 in private contributions from businesses, the Craig Chamber of Commerce is more than halfway to the $15,000 it requested for the Moffat County Visitor Center.

At the Chamber's meeting Thursday, Chamber Board President Gene Bilodeau discussed the Chamber giving an extra $2,000 to the center, which would be taken out of interest collected from the Chamber's reserve.

The extra funding would bring the Chamber's contribution to the Visitor Center in 2008 up to about $46,000, Executive Director Christina Currie said.

With that funding, the Chamber will be able to afford some extra staffing at the Visitor Center, Currie said.

The Chamber board did not approve the $2,000 allocation but approved a budget with a $2,000 surplus, Currie said.

"Rather than put $2,000 in interest, for the good of the order, we put that $2,000 toward that position," Bilodeau said.

At current levels, with the Chamber about $5,000 short of its $15,000 goal, there is enough money to pay for a Visitor Center general information specialist to work 30 hours a week and have a sportsmen's information specialist full-time during the hunting season and 16 hours a week in the off-season.

At the present time, local groups have not addressed funding to expand sportsmen's information hours, Bilodeau said.

Local government officials and Colorado congressmen will be in talks with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management to increase funding for that position, he said.

— Different people want different things, so, sometimes, it behooves an organization to dismiss the axiom "one size fits all."

The Craig Chamber of Commerce board did that at Thursday's meeting when it approved its member due structure for 2008.

The new structure is a departure from how the Chamber handled dues in the past.

Current dues are tier-based on industry, and range from $50 for nonprofits to $1,000 for energy companies, Executive Director Christina Currie said.

The new program is menu-based, which means members can select a package with the benefits and amenities they desire.

"Some business crave something from the Chamber," said Gene Bilodeau, Chamber board president. "Other people don't want all the bells and whistles. They just want to be Chamber members. We're trying to satisfy as many appetites as we can with this."

Currie agreed.

"This really is a great program for members," she said. "It lets them take advantage of the Chamber as much as they want or as little as they want."

Packages in the new structure range from a standard membership for $250 a year to a prestige package for $3,000 a year. Higher packages include better presence on the Chamber Web site and sponsorships and promotion tables at Chamber events.

Nonprofits and associations get a 50 percent discount on memberships.

All memberships include networking, training, promotion, business advocacy and other administrative services.

Members will be asked to sign up under the new due structure whenever they renew their memberships.

This structure also allows Chamber members to see exactly what the Chamber provides, which members are sometimes unaware of, Currie said.

"I know this structure does a much better job of communicating what the benefits are and helps members keep track of what benefits they're getting," Currie said.

And it allows the Chamber to provide better customer service, she added.

When Crabfest approaches next year, members who have tickets included in their membership packages will get a phone call from the Chamber reminding them to pick up their tickets.

"It's another contact point we can extend to all our services," Currie said.

The new memberships are more expensive than current dues.

The average Chamber membership now costs $216, and the lowest package available under the 2008 structure is $250, Currie said.

Chamber members as a whole shouldn't have too much of a problem with that, Bilodeau said.

Members have approached Bilodeau recently, mostly in regard to the Moffat County Visitor Center funding debate, he said.

Between desire to help the Visitor Center and the knowledge that reasonable cost of doing business is rising, members have not expressed much animosity toward contributing more dollars, Bilodeau said.

Whatever package a business chooses, there is an "a la carte" menu where business owners can choose specific amenities without buying up to a more expensive package.

That includes a $500 option to become a "Visitor Center benefactor." With that option, members get a nameplate at the Visitor Center identifying their business.

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