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By Micah Drew
Pathfinder 

Chamber of Commerce Reboots

 


SEELEY LAKE - “Frankly, it was about to fold.”

That was Cheryl Lewis’s comment on the old Seeley Lake Chamber of Commerce. Lewis, the newly elected chairperson, is one of the members breathing new life into the Chamber this year.

Over the years, the Chamber has been involved in community affairs and events such as the Fourth of July and Winterfest. In recent years the enthusiasm and interest in the Chamber dwindled to just a member or two and “people were just tired,” according to Lewis.

“We had to decide whether to let it die or bring it back again,” she said.

The decision was made to revamp the Chamber and bring on a new board. Lewis is joined by Eric Hayhurst as Treasurer, Rachelle Harman as Secretary and Lisa Hayhurst as the appointed Executive Director. Cheri Thompson continues in her role as the office manager.

The Chamber received some much-needed emotional support from the Seeley Lake Community Foundation a year ago.

“They recognized how vital it was to the community,” said Lewis. “That helped us feel that we weren’t alone.”

The mission of the Chamber is to promote the Seeley Lake area and “improve quality of life for its members and community.”

According to Lewis, the focus of the reformed Chamber will be more on promoting the Seeley Lake area as opposed to just holding events to bring in people, which was a major role in the past.

One way it plans to address promotion is by working on a community website. There will be openings for all business members to have free listings as well as different levels of paid advertising.

The website is still in the planning stages, as are many things with the new Chamber. There are bylaws to review, funding to secure and members to contact.

The first real task for the Chamber was to help organize the Seeley Lake Fourth of July celebration.

“As a restart year, we went back to the basics,” said Lewis. “We knew the parade needed to happen and the fireworks needed to happen so that’s what we focused on.”

Lewis added that arranging for the flyover and the singing of the national anthem were extra bits the Chamber added in.

Even with the refocus on promotion rather than hosting events, Lewis said that the Chamber plans on reviving Winterfest—which Seeley has been bereft of for two years.

“There’s a need for people to visit Seeley Lake and spur some tourism in the winter months,” said Lewis. “We think we have enough time to bring back Winterfest.”

If all goes well, there are plans to bring back another old Chamber event—The Tamarack Brewfest—but not until next year.

Until then, it’ll be a more subtle presence as the Chamber solidifies its place once more as a vital part of the Seeley Lake community.

 

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