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New Richmond Area Chamber adds member benefits

Lisa Woletz

In the three months since Lisa Woletz took over as the executive director of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce, the local business organization has been a whirlwind of activity.

Since January, 21 businesses have signed on as new members. That's about half of the 2013 goal for new members that Woletz set when she took over her post.

"As I've been out visiting people, people understand the benefits of being a Chamber member," she said. "They can see there is a great return on their investment."

Woletz said an increase in activity and opportunities in the Chamber has spurred some businesses to become members.

"The Chamber membership is feeling new energy and excitement about being involved," she said.

Woletz has helped to form a new committee within the Chamber -- the promotions committee. That group's main task is to focus on a new "shop local' education program that will operate within the community and in the schools.

Woletz said the effort will attempt to convince area residents that shopping local is important to the community's economy.

"Sometimes we take for granted the businesses that we have in the community," Woletz explained. "Then we wonder why they go away sometimes. We want to help our existing businesses thrive across the community."

The shop local effort will focus not only on the downtown district, but also all businesses within the area, Woletz said.

The Chamber is launching another new effort in the coming weeks.

"Network New Richmond" is a new networking and referral group that will meet from 7:30-8:30 a.m. each Wednesday, beginning on April 24th. The weekly meeting location of this group will be rotated among Chamber members. The first gathering on April 24 will be held at JET's Coffee Bistro.

"Years ago, New Richmond had a networking group," Woletz said. "The group slowly dissolved because it didn't have an organization supporting it."

It was her goal to re-establish a networking group in the fall, but Woletz said too many people approached her about the idea that she decided to push the launch up.

"I decided now is the time to do it if we have interest in it," she said.

Woletz said she hopes at least a dozen business people will show up to be charter members of the networking group, but she's convinced it will only grow from there.

Membership with the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce is a requirement for participation in the networking group. The goal is for those attending to develop business leads from within the group.

The Chamber Ambassadors are also becoming more involved under Woletz's watch. Not only do they continue to help new businesses conduct ribbon cutting ceremonies, the group is also visiting two to four existing Chamber members every month to see how things are going and offer their moral support.

Apart from the new committee and networking opportunities, Woletz is also pumping more time into the Chamber's weekly email updates. Part of the communication piece will be devoted to a "Chamber Member of the Week," providing information about a local business and their history.

"It'll serve as a reminder of what businesses we have in the community and what they have to offer," Woletz said.

Woletz is also planning to pen a regular "Chamber Chat" column for the New Richmond News in the near future. The column will serve as a way for the Chamber to promote some of its activities to the general public.

Even with all the new things going on, many of the Chamber's popular events remain on the calendar for 2013. Woletz said Chamber members and community members should do their best to attend the events if they can.

The next big gathering is the second annual Professional and Business Woman of the Year Luncheon and Women's Expo at R&D Catering Banquet Center May 1. Not only will the "Woman of the Year" be honored, but a motivational speaker will be on hand and a style show featuring local clothing and local jewelry will be offered.

Also, 28 vendors will be on hand to offer a full day of fun and educational experiences for local women.

According to Woletz, more than 100 tickets have already been sold to the event. "Registration for the event is required," she noted. "There will be no walk-ins."

The Spring Sparkler is also right around the corner -- May 20 at the New Richmond Golf Club. Woletz reminded everyone that the fun tournament is the primary fundraiser for the community's annual fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

Also late in May, an official groundbreaking for the proposed St. Croix River bridge will be held. Woletz is the Wisconsin chairperson who will help organize the event that will kick off the major transportation project.

Immediately after that, on June 7-8, will be the Chamber's annual Park Art Fair and Blues & Brews Fest. Free and open to the general public, the weekend gathering in Mary Park will feature dozens of vendors selling their wares and plenty of music. Featured performers this year include Johnny Rawls, Tweed Funk, Left Wing Bourbon and Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys.

A month later, New Richmond's annual Fun Fest will entertain the public.

"There's so much on the calendar," Woletz commented.