Public meeting set for chamber of commerce initiative in Spring Grove

By : 
Sherry Pitts

Spring Grove is currently in the early stages of developing a local chamber of commerce, thanks to four local women working together who have one goal: The prosperity of Spring Grove and the surrounding community. 

The purpose of any chamber is to represent the business community and their needs. According to the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, there are roughly 4,000 chambers in the U.S. with at least one full-time employee.

This new chamber of commerce initiative in Spring Grove has been several years in the making, with planning members Teresa Fegyak, Jessi Strinmoen, Stephanie Gulbranson, and Jacqui Van Minsel taking the lead on community conversations on this topic. 

“I got involved through the EDA because we had heard many similar issues from businesses,” explained Courtney Bergey Swanson, ​director of community engagement at Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA).

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Spring Grove Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a visioning meeting at Jo’s Coffee House, adjoined to Red’s IGA. The format of the meeting changed to give the committee an opportunity to hear from the public. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., with the meeting starting at 6 p.m.  

Swanson stated they’re “hoping the visioning meeting helps the chamber committee understand more about what businesses need, and how we can make this a successful endeavor from the start.” 

The committee will present information on funding, the goal to hire a paid director and the 2020 initiatives, then provide an opportunity for the committee members to receive feedback on member benefits and programming ideas directly from the community. 

“We'd love the chamber to spearhead unique new events that engage the local community and bring in visitors to patronize local business,” Swanson said. “Of course this increased tourism hopes to attract new residents, businesses, and entrepreneurs.” 

Chamber members are brick and mortar businesses, organizations, home based businesses, and individuals concerned with the economic development of the community, speaking with a collective voice to support and enhance a healthy economy by improving business and the quality of life for residents. The activities can range from hosting events that allow local businesses to highlight themselves, to  job fairs, monthly luncheons or charitable works for enhancing the community. 

According to Swanson, “The EDA can only act and use resources within city limits, so there is a need for another organization that can help city and rural businesses and make regional connections.” 

In her role at the EDA, Swanson sees a need for more general marketing of Spring Grove, addressing the need for a stronger social media presence, as well as communication between nonprofits and businesses for collaboration in making sure local events don’t conflict. 

“Many businesses also want to participate in cooperative marketing, where perhaps several get together to cooperatively buy an ad somewhere or host an event to draw visitors/customers,” she said.

Since the city of Spring Grove is growing and changing, a strong chamber of commerce is vital in the preservation of small-town businesses, working for residents and the betterment of the community. Everyone is encouraged to attend and participate in this springboard discussion so their voices can be heard. Participants will be able to contribute ideas and have a say in issues that matter to small business owners and community members.