Chamber column: Champion, Catalyst and Convener
The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association has traditionally been synonymous with things like Strawberry Days, networking events and tourism promotion. These activities of the organization are visible and easy to explain. Though these are all important, there is even more to the GSCRA than meets the eye.
Throughout the country, chambers of commerce are uniquely positioned and described as: champions for a thriving community; catalysts for sustainable business growth and development and conveners of leaders and influencers to get things done. Though this has always been true, the COIVD-19 pandemic has brought to light the important role chambers of commerce have in communities probably more than ever before.
In 2020 there was not a Strawberry Days. Networking and other events were paused, postponed, or transitioned to a virtual environment. Sustainable tourism promotion efforts continued but messaging had to be frequently adjusted based on the ever-changing environment.
One might ask, without Strawberry Days and only limited events, what has the GSCRA been doing in addition to tourism marketing?
Like other businesses and organizations, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association has had to make tough choices this year. We pivoted, redirected our efforts, and we are working even more efficiently and collaboratively. We are more focused on being a champion, catalyst and convener.
At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we quickly stepped up and devoted all our resources on being a trusted partner and lifeline for local businesses. We have been continuously working hard to provide business support and promotion, outreach, timely communication, and advocacy. The GSCRA has also been participating in numerous virtual meetings, calls and task forces to address the pandemic and plan for business recovery.
Throughout the “Stay at Home Order,” the GSCRA found creative ways to encourage the community to support local retailers through their online stores and set up a successful takeout and delivery group on Facebook. The Facebook group quickly grew to over 2K followers and provided a vehicle for restaurants to share their information and for consumers to show their support.
Since March, the GSCRA has been offering timely educational opportunities by collaborating with a variety of businesses and organizations. Utilizing our Business and Breakfast platform, together with our partners we offered webinars weekly in the beginning of the pandemic as information needed to be shared quickly with local businesses. A partnership with Colorado Mountain College allowed for the launch CMC’s Back to Business program where businesses could take advantage of informative webinars, trainings, and business coaching at no cost.
As businesses began to reopen, the GSCRA connected them to information and resources on how to safely open and stay in business. Realizing that businesses would need a boost even after reopening, the GSCRA partnered with the City of Glenwood Springs and the Downtown Development Authority to create a “Get Glenwood Going” program, representing a $500K investment in the local business community.
Get Glenwood Going includes the G4 grant program, where $300K in business grants were distributed. Another $200K is expected to be invested in local businesses by the end of November utilizing the Glenwood Gold community currency program through a tourism stimulus campaign and “Help Glenwood Shine” buy-local program.
The GSCRA introduced Glenwood Gold community currency as part of the economic recovery strategy, which is a year-round “buy local” stimulus program. Glenwood Gold certificates currency certificates can be purchased on the GSCRA website work like cash when redeemed. The program reimburses participating businesses 100 percent of the face value of the currency.
Like other chambers of commerce, the GSCRA is and will continue to be essential to rebuilding the local economy. The GSCRA is committed supporting local businesses in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Please stay tuned over the next few weeks as we unveil more ways in which we can all work together to ensure our local businesses survive and thrive, while keeping our community safe and healthy.
Through our continued community partnerships, we are confident we can weather this uncertainty, while also developing and engaging in new and productive strategies that will help our collective business community succeed now and into the future.
Angie Anderson is President and Chief Executive Officer for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
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