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home : life : business & finance May 03, 2016

5/9/2013 11:32:00 PM
Your Chamber of Commerce: Not Just for Business

Local Chambers of Commerce are traditionally thought of as organizations strictly for business owners. Indeed, the earliest of these coalitions formed in 16th Century Europe specifically to protect certain traders. Today's Chamber of Commerce, however, is very community-based, and it is not uncommon to see Chambers addressing the social needs of their communities (chamberme.com). And why not? When communities are healthier, businesses are better off as well.

We don't have to look past the borders of Payne County to find Chambers that are active in their communities. From rodeos to Christmas parades to agriculture awards, Chambers in Payne County do way more for their communities than just promote businesses.

The Yale Chamber of Commerce sponsors the June Noble Memorial Rodeo each summer, and in 2007 the rodeo was named IPRA's "Best New Rodeo" on the circuit. Cushing's Chamber hosts many events each year, and the Christmas parade is a favorite. "This is our time to show our hometown spirit," says Chamber Director, Brent Thompson. The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual agriculture appreciation banquet and sponsors a Farm Family of the Year award. Furthermore, leadership development programs are sponsored by Stillwater Chamber as well as Cushing Chamber and Perkins Chamber.

Perkins Chamber is so dedicated to the notion that "Chamber is for everyone" that they officially changed their name several years ago to Perkins Community Chamber of Commerce. Lisa Branum is the Perkins Chamber president for 2013 and she feels strongly that individuals in the community should get involved with Chamber. According to Branum, "Perkins Chamber works to bring business to town, but we also plan and host Old Fashioned Country Christmas, Chocolate Walk, and Old Settlers Day which is a great way to bring our community together. We also implement programs to help our schools and local organizations as well as keep our town clean."

Getting involved with an organization, like Chamber, that is so heavily invested in the community is really a win-win situation for both the individual and the community. Individuals such as home-based business owners, stay-at-home moms (or dads), retired folks, etc. still need opportunities to interact with other people and to give back to the community. And the community is certainly better off when trash is picked up, when children have a safe Halloween alternative, when scholarships are awarded, and when citizens work together for common goals.

Consider joining your Chamber today. The Perkins Community Chamber of Commerce makes it very easy for non-businesses to join. Annual membership is just $25 for an individual. The Chamber meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at the Vassar Community Center for lunch and a program. Lunch costs $7 at the door. If you would like to be a new member of Perkins Chamber, just show up for lunch at noon and give it a try. It's a particularly good way to learn about Perkins if you are new to the community. See their website perkinsok.net.

The other Chambers in Payne County also have special membership rates for individuals. In Cushing, "Friend of Chamber" annual membership is just $55 (compared to $200 for a small business). Cushing's Chamber website is cushingchamber.org. Individuals may join Stillwater Chamber for an annual investment of $120 (compared to $265 for a small business). Check out their website at stillwaterchamber.org.

Chamberme.com has a wonderful quote on their website that sums up the essence of this month's article. "When you join a Chamber of Commerce, you become part of an institution...a team of residents, growing local business and promoting the community as a whole."

Dr. Suzette Barta is an Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development, with Payne County OSU Extension. She is also an active member of the Perkins Community Chamber of Commerce and Perkins Community Foundation. To contact her regarding the content of this or other articles, e-mail her at sbarta@provalue.net.





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