Craig Chamber’s Jennifer Holloway wins state honor, looks toward future |

Craig Chamber’s Jennifer Holloway wins state honor, looks toward future

Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Holloway, center, accepts the CEO of the Year Award from the Association of Colorado Chambers of Commerce on Oct. 26, 2022, during the annual ACCC Awards Banquet in Aurora.
Courtesy Photo

When she stepped into the Hyatt Regency Aurora Conference Center last week, Craig’s Jennifer Holloway was expecting to learn some useful new tools for promoting and building up her hometown. What she got was a lot more.

Holloway took home the CEO of the Year Award from the Association of Colorado Chambers of Commerce on Oct. 26 at the 2022 annual ACCC Awards Banquet in Aurora, as she was recognized for her work as executive director of Craig Chamber of Commerce.

“Craig has undoubtedly faced uncertainty and anxiety about our future. Jennifer has met this unique situation with innovation and devoted leadership, bringing hope for our future,” the Chamber board wrote in a news release. “With understanding and appreciation for where Craig came from and where we’ll go, she offers insight and pragmatic guidance to prosperity. Jennifer has truly personified our mission during these times of change.”

Holloway said she was unaware she was even in the running until co-worker Brittany Young filled her in just before the ceremony.

“When they announced the winner, they called my name, which was crazy. I was in such shock,” Holloway said. “When they started reading what some of the other chambers had done in the state, I didn’t think there was any way I could get it. It really does give us a boost at the chamber and lets us know what we’re doing is the right work and what chambers across the state respect. It’s the kind of work that other chambers are trying to do, and we’re in line with that and representing our community well.”

The award recognizes Holloway’s projects in 2021, such as contributing to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science podcast, “Coal at Sunset,” detailing the ongoing process of a shifting economy in Northwest Colorado.

“One of the big things is our work with Just Transition and with Tri-State and state and federal officials on trying to create a new future for Craig beyond fossil fuel and beyond our reliance on one industry,” she said. “The Chamber is really trying to create a diverse economy here, boost small businesses and promote single-person entrepreneurs, as well as support our larger businesses and our growing tourism and outdoor rec economy, as well as our remote workers.”

Another point of pride is the revamp of the century-old Yampa Building, which now serves as the chamber’s headquarters, as well as housing multiple other organizations.

“It’s the coolest building in town,” Holloway said. “We were able to bring that back to life and create a community environment where we have a super-great home for our senior citizens with Northwest Colorado Center for Independence, helping nonprofits all over the valley to have a place to meet and have educational programming, meet with clients and do all their work. We know that arts and culture is going to be part of our future here, so we’re really proud of being able to provide that space for them.”

Coming up soon will be the holiday event Festival of Trees, which the Yampa Building will host again.

“We’ve already had more applicants coming in for this time of year, so we think it’ll be a really good turnout,” Holloway said.

Though Holloway and the chamber board were pleased to win the award, the honor came on the heels of recent stinging financial news for Craig, with the abrupt closure of the local Pizza Hut, following Walgreens and Village Inn as big-name businesses leaving town. Holloway noted that the departures are unpleasant but not all that surprising.

“We have to be realistic. We are losing our highest-paying industry, and our service and supplemental businesses are going to suffer a bit,” she said. “Big chains are working on a national level business plan, and we are rural, so we have to face facts that our numbers do not add up in a way that can support a lot of these big chains.”

She added that seeing multiple empty buildings along Victory Way doesn’t have to be as dire as it seems.

“Does it seem sad now? Yeah, but when I look at it longer term, we want a community that we curate on authenticity and the real West,” Holloway said. “What kind of passion and businesses do we want to create here in our arts and culture and our agriculture community and history? It’s so amazing here, and we can do that without the big chains. We just have to keep our eye on the long-term future and any positive thing and be open-minded to the change because if we don’t take the opportunities that come and present themselves, then we’re going to miss out.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.