I recently heard Jenni Sopsic present on the Montrose Chamber of Commerce at a Heidi’s Forum. Sopsic, and the chamber, have been in transformation mode since the city relieved the chamber of managing nearly $600,000 in tourism and retail enhancement funds in January 2013. It was a sizable loss in funding but has granted the chamber a new look on life and way to approach the community.
Prior to defunding, Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism seemed heavily weighted toward tourism. Now, the chamber is beginning to sound like an actual chamber talking about ideas that affect local business and ways they can help encourage small businesses to grow.
Now at times, I’ve had my differences with the chamber, but I believe that a chamber is needed in a community like ours. The chamber has recently exhibited leadership by taking a stand on local and state issues. Without tax payer funding, the chamber has taken strong public positions opposing statewide Amendment 66, and then being in favor of Measure “B” — a local Montrose Community Recreation Center funding initiative.
I’ve always believed that a newspaper should be willing to stand up in favor, and in opposition, of issues that affect our community; we do this through our opinion page. But we shouldn’t be the only organization that does. Part of being a leadership organization is to care enough about something that you stand behind it. Unfortunately, backlash for being out front has made many of our organizations and businesses afraid to stand up for something.
That was only one of the highlights to come out of the Measure “B” initiative. Many of our local businesses and organizations took stands on a very controversial issue. At the end of day, isn’t difference in opinion what makes our society so healthy? Let’s foster opinions and stand up for them the same way the chamber is beginning to do.
Francis Wick is the publisher of the Montrose Daily Press