|New Custer County Chamber of Commerce board president Wilson Jarvis has high hopes for the continuing betterment of the near 100 member business association. “For the first time we are actively collaborating with other county groups that advoate for and develop business,” he points out, noting that monthly conversations are underway with the Chamber, the Tourism Board, the Custer County Economic Development Corporation, and CART (Community Action Revitalization Team).
“We’re defining roles, seeing how we can support one another,” he said. Rene Smith, Executive Director of the Chamber added that “if someone of us is doing something really well [to promote healthy business development in the county], then we all want to pull together to have that happen.”
The three fold mission of the Chamber is enhanced by this interaction across the county’s business development interests: first, to do whatever is possible to promote Chamber members; second, to promote all merchants for the vitality of the community; and third, to support the community itself. An example of the latter is the newly initiated “Coffee with…” series of open public discussion meetings with local officials. The series premiered with Sheriff Shannon Byerly; he was followed by Silver Cliff Mayor Steve Lasswell. Next on the program, a week from today, will be County Commissioner Donna Hood, speaking and entertaining questions at 8:30 a.m., June 22, at A Painted View Ranch.
“Our members want more than what is usually the mark of Chamber of Commerce activities: member meetings, networking, and so on,” Smith said. “We are a unique community, and we welcome people’s help and opinions.” Jarvis echoed this outlook, saying “Key to a good Chamber is an active membership.”
That activity is reflected in the way the Chamber organizes and volunteer staffs events that draw visitors to the area, such as the July 1 Westcliffe Car Show (online cf. westcliffecarshow.com). The Chamber is also a co-sponsor of events in which members provide volunteer services, for example the KLZR Rock ‘n Soul Jam this Saturday at A Painted View Ranch, and the August 19 and 20 Custer County Cowboy Gathering, also at A Painted View Ranch.
Both Jarvis and Smith are examples of one of the county dynamics the Chamber is aware of in the multiple facets of life here: the increasing number of people who either retire here or simply can’t resist moving to the scenic beauty of our ranching community. They settled here after visits convinced them this was the environment in which they clearly wanted to live.
“This reality is only going to grow,” Jarvis noted, commenting as well on the considerable wealth of talent that retirees bring and offer to the community, the Chamber’s nonprofit members, and local businesses. As for increasing the numbers of working people who continue to want to relocate here, Jarvis and Smith point to two major factors that can sustain healthy growth: the development of low environmental impact employment opportunities, and the Chamber’s role in providing new business start up counsel.
“We hope the Chamber and Chamber activities will be perceived as of value, not only to our members, but to the community,” Jarvis concluded, ending on the high note so many recognize: a good many folks coming into the area for events and touring do support our businesses and merchants—and some exude that sigh, “Why would I ever leave here!”
The information rich Chamber website is custercountyco.com.
– W.A. Ewing