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Colorado River Valley Chamber trying to strengthen historical relationship with Rifle

Staff recommends city purchase website domain name currently owned by the chamber

One Jewelers owner Nick Beightel cracks jokes with Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director JulieAnn Van Hoek in January.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

As the Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce continues to restructure its image and benefits packages for its members, executive director JulieAnn Van Hoek is seeking more support from the city of Rifle.

Support includes the possibility of the city increasing its financial membership with the chamber, as well as purchasing a website domain name currently owned by the chamber.

“Let’s move in the direction where we the chamber can support you in the things that we do,” Van Hoek told City Council members in Rifle on Feb. 2. “Then you support us as the chamber and the things that we do so that we can all collaboratively work together, because that’s really what it’s all about.”



Sometime between 2017 and 2018, the city of Rifle reduced its $10,000 “cornerstone” membership level with the chamber to a $190 annual sponsorship, according to city documents.

Council member Sean Strode said the city was happy to support the chamber back then but that they wanted to know if the funds were being spent usefully.



“We want to make sure it’s money spent well for both of us,” Strode said.

In addition to the $190 annual sponsorship, the city has also set aside $10,000 to reimburse the chamber after they host events, while the Greater Rifle Improvement Team — a city subsidiary organization — has also given at least $16,076 for chamber events.

Meanwhile, the city has continued to share a website domain — VisitRifle.com — with the chamber. According to this 2016 contract, the chamber owns the domain name but leases it to the city. In turn, the city maintains and updates the site for purposes of marketing the Rifle community.

But Van Hoek said, despite the city using the site to direct users to its own site — RifleNow.org — payments have not been made between the city and the chamber.

“There was an agreement drawn up in 2016 that you guys agreed to,” she said. “Nobody ever held up their end of the bargain on either side.”

Council members asked how much traffic the chamber website receives and if it’s worth purchasing the domain name.

“I want to know if it’s worth keeping it or putting it away,” council member Brian Condie said.

The Colorado River Valley Chamber of Commerce — which is now trying to represent De Beque, Parachute, Rifle, Silt and New Castle — has restructured itself in an effort to garner more membership.

It changed its name from the former Your Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce and increased membership fees in order to support a business package that helps businesses expand on things like marketing exposure, online presence, sponsorship opportunities and more.

Now, if the city of Rifle were to become a municipality partner, it would pay $3,000 per year to access these benefits.

Council member Clint Hostettler showed support for each partnering city paying an equal amount for membership with the chamber.

“I love the way that you guys are setting us up where each municipality pays $3,000,” he said. “Then if we choose to give you guys grants for different events in the city that are in rifle, I think that’s great.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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