Glenwood and Carbondale chambers tout member perks |

Glenwood and Carbondale chambers tout member perks

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” An ailing economy might have some businesses looking to cut expenses deemed to be luxury items, but local chambers of commerce want to make sure chamber membership isn’t viewed in that light.

In fact, the many benefits chamber membership provides could be considered part of the equation for businesses to weather the current recession, say two area chamber executives.

“So far we’re holding our own (with regards to membership),” said Marianne Virgili, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “We are really conscious of the economic challenges businesses are facing. If a business is looking at dropping their membership, we encourage them to look at the savings they get with that membership.”

A recent letter addressed to Glenwood Chamber members outlines a “5-Point Economic Stimulus Plan” designed to help businesses meet the challenges ahead. It highlights benefits such as the chamber’s various networking opportunities, business education workshops and informational seminars, free advertising, and legislative lobbying on the local, state and national level as ways the chamber assists its members.

Providing resources for local businesses to profit from what’s happening with the “clean energy economy” is also a major focus for the chamber heading into 2009.

“Typically what happens when we have a challenging economy is that businesses tend to band together,” Virgili said. “They all want the same thing, which is to generate more business for each other.”

Group health and workers’ compensation insurance plans available through chamber membership are also a huge bonus, she said.

Last year alone, chamber members saw more than $400,000 in health insurance savings and received more than $300,000 in workers comp dividends, she said.

“That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars saved for our business members,” Virgili said.

Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randi Lowenthal said she has had a couple of businesses decide not to renew their memberships heading into the new year.

“They are telling us they are cutting back on expenses,” Lowenthal said.

January will be a critical month for the Carbondale Chamber to also emphasize its member perks in an effort to retain members.

Lowenthal said she has had members inquiring about the benefits available to them, which they may not be currently taking advantage of.

“I think we are being viewed as value-added,” she said. “Our members receive free listings on our website and in the annual business directory. For small businesses, those things are huge.

“There are always going to be those who decide to pull back, but we want to make the case that there are cost-effective opportunities available through the chamber,” Lowenthal said.

Area chambers also offer a 10 percent discount for dual membership between the Glenwood, Carbondale, Basalt or Aspen chambers, so that businesses can take advantage of the opportunities each has to offer.

Particularly in tough times, deciding to keep that dual membership may be a big question for some businesses, Lowenthal said.

The Glenwood Chamber also plans to take a cue from its Carbondale counterpart by organizing an economic summit, bringing together financial experts to talk about the state of the economy in the Roaring Fork Valley. Carbondale had a similar “conversation on the economy” in December, including a panel discussion and follow-up among business owners about how to help each other through the recession. The ongoing conversation was tentatively scheduled to resume this Thursday.

“Shop local campaigns and anything that promotes doing business with each other is very relevant in a challenging economy,” added Virgili. “As a chamber we’re also concentrating on things we can do to help the business economy.”

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