The Greater Montrose Chamber of Commerce, which launched October 2020, is up to 56 active members just over a year after forming.
The total more than doubles the chamber’s expected membership it anticipated right before its launch. That’s less than the organization’s end of 2021 goal — 100 members — but nonetheless, it has presented networking opportunities for Montrose business owners, said Tonya Maddox, former president of the chamber board and current executive board member.
“A value members have been given is true networking, through the business ‘after hours,’” Maddox said. “I’ve seen people connecting and funds exchanging. It’s given people an opportunity to come together for a common reason and to do business together.”
The membership’s benefits, which, in addition to networking, range from business referrals to ribbon-cuttings to job listings and more.
Referrals, after an uptick in April and May 2021, slowed to a little less than 10 per month for the rest of 2021.
The chamber doesn’t have an executive director or payroll, which limits costs. It’s a difference in model from the previous Montrose Chamber of Commerce, which dissolved in April 2019 due to expenses surpassing revenue and instability in the executive director role.
Currently, the chamber is in the black, Maddox said, accumulating just under $10,000 in revenue. Expenses, at the moment, are minimal.
“If we can continue that for another two to three years, we’re going to have an even stronger financial position,” Maddox said.
The chamber has received support from the City of Montrose through its Development and Revitalization Team program. The city came to the chamber last September and offered a partnership.
Now, a chamber board member — Rachel Leon of Delta-Montrose Electric Association — represents the chamber at DART board meetings.
“The chamber is really in tune with business networking for different businesses in town, which is something that’s really needed,” Kendall Cramer, the city’s innovation and citizen engagement community program manager, said. “They’re filling an area of need in our community and we’re excited to partner with them.”
The city helped sponsor some of the chamber’s networking events such as the Power Players luncheon, which was donated to the chamber in September. Previously, the luncheon was a part of Our Town Matters, though Maddox, CEO of Our Town Matters, made plans to donate it to the chamber in 2022.
“We want to be here for the business community and provide the best services that we can,” Cramer said. “It benefits everyone within the community.”
The chamber also completed a deal with Elevate Fiber for marketing, which Maddox expects will further the chamber’s reach within the county.
“Networking and getting to know what’s available and what other businesses are doing within the community has been a real value,” Sue Frank, president and CEO of TEI Rock Drills and now president of the chamber board, said.
“We’re happy with the growth in membership that we had in 2021. In the pandemic, it hasn’t been easy to grow but our hope in the next year is we double that membership.”
Frank will lead the board in 2022 as president, though duties have been mapped out over the next three years — Megan Wilson of Shelter Insurance is board president-elect for 2023 and Jaimee Carnes of Elderado Financial is 2024 president-elect.
The goal in 2022 is to amass 150 members, which is based on the shortfall from 2021 and the growth the chamber is seeking for this year.
The chamber hasn’t yet addressed how it could potentially help members who are dealing with staffing or supply shortages (made that much more difficult considering board members are business owners themselves), but plan to discuss the topic this week, Maddox said. (The board has monthly meetings and executive board members also meet quarterly.)
Businesses opening in Montrose are expected to be a trend in 2022, said Maddox, whose Our Town Matters firm fields several calls from business owners inquiring about the area. As many as seven could potentially make announcements this year, she added.
Maddox also touted the chamber’s partnerships, which she said has helped legitimize the chamber in its quest to be a “collective voice” for locally owned and operated businesses.
“As long as we all work together, it’ll benefit this community more as we try to attract new businesses, retain new businesses and so forth,” Maddox said. “It doesn’t get any better than having all of the organizations working together.”
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.