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Collaboration will help strengthen our economy

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Dear Editor:

Interested in a strong and diverse Delta County economy?

Delta County businesses know that our economy is difficult. These tough economic times require a multi-pronged approach and innovative ideas to success. As the area experiences job loss and decreased spending, businesses are asking, "How do we keep our business viable?"

The chambers are the answer to that question! The chambers of commerce provide LEADERSHIP, ADVOCACY and ACTION. The chambers are the catalysts for a thriving, diverse and vibrant business economy that supports our valued quality of life. Cherry Days, Downtown Friday and the Paonia Holiday Festivities exceeded businesses' expectations. These events demonstrate how the chambers and businesses can work together on multiple local events to attract large audiences to main street businesses.

Teams achieve more than the individual. Your job will be easier (and more cost effective) with the support of other businesses -- from hiring consultants, to launching a marketing campaign, to drawing great participation at an event. Successful examples include the Schallert Business Symposium that the North Fork chambers led last fall and the multiple business skills workshops and trainings the Paonia Chamber has co-hosted with The Hive in 2015. Gaining access to experts in fields including marketing, human resources, and search engine optimization became possible for all local businesses because a centralized organization working with a strong team made these happen.

No one can argue the fact that the vast majority of businesses in our area are small businesses that meet the USDA's criteria as "small rural businesses." The chambers are the only organizations in Delta County with the single focus of helping your small rural business prosper. However, the chambers also need a team to successfully fulfill their mission.

The county team began when the three North Fork chambers started meeting and collaborating about five years ago. The team expanded to all five Delta County chambers and the Creative Coalition. The team continued to reach out across the county and has expanded to include the Delta County administrator, Delta County Economic Development, Delta County Tourism Council and Region 10.

Each Delta County town has unique characteristics and personalities, while sharing common values. Our tourist industry and business organizations are linked with each other. The five Delta County Chambers, West Elks Wine Growers Association, Valley Organic Growers Association and the Colorado State certified North Fork Valley Creative District are examples of organizations that create linkages throughout the area. As the linkages grow, our economy becomes stronger. Individual businesses offer high-quality, unique and outstanding experiences. Combined, we indeed provide it all -- farms, ranches, wineries, artists, lodging, farm-to-table restaurants, and all of the iconic Colorado outdoor activities.

How can you help strengthen Delta County's economy? Join one or more of the local chambers if you are a Delta County business or a Delta County nonprofit. If you are a Delta County citizen concerned about the local economy, shop locally and join or donate to the chambers. The chambers need active board members, committee members, and volunteers! It really is that simple -- your membership dues and volunteer time are the heart of your chambers.

Mike Drake
President
Paonia Chamber
of Commerce

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