Summit chamber sees growth in future |

Summit chamber sees growth in future

Summit Daily/Jim Morgan Ralf Garrison speaks at the Summit County Chamber of Commerce annual breakfast Wednesday. He said the chamber is leading almost "by default" because it is in the position to bring different entities together on an economic vision.

SILVERTHORNE – The Summit Chamber of Commerce recapped a tumultuous year Wednesday during its annual breakfast meeting at the Silverthorne Pavilion. At the same time, chamber board president Loren Stone told the audience of about 80 that although 2004 was “full of adversities,” the 24-year organization is focused with a new vision and a defined agenda this year.The organization saw a small increase in membership in 2004 – to 692 members – and estimated its numbers would grow 30 percent in the coming months. A small net income in 2004 was shadowed by a $25,000 loss on its information center operations.

Last spring, the chamber struggled with decreased financial support for the visitor information centers it managed. The Summit Boulevard location in Frisco was closed, but the chamber board partnered with the Outlets at Silverthorne to keep its location there open.A new manager was recently hired in Silverthorne, and Stone reported an expected 70,000 visitors this year.In Frisco, the town partnered with Copper Mountain Resort and the Frisco Chamber of Commerce to open an information center on Main Street.”We are pleased with the results,” Stone said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We will be more of a regional information center in Silverthorne, which will draw even more people to the area.”

Rob Goodell, manager at the Outlets at Silverthorne, briefly spoke about a $13 million renovation underway at the stores. The renovation is expected to drive more than $30 million in additional annual sales when completed in the fall. In addition to its financial challenges, 2004 brought leadership changes to the chamber.Constance Jones was hired as executive director in August. Stone said she brought “an incredible burst of energy to the chamber.”Two months after Jones’ arrival, the organization hosted the area’s first economic summit at Copper Mountain Resort that was attended by more than 200.

The chamber last year also sponsored the annual ski area chief executive officers’ luncheon and strengthened relationships with the Small Business Administration and state officials to better represent Summit County’s business community in politics, Stone said.Plans for this year include an improved website, a new slogan (“Summit County Colorado: Make it your first choice!”) and a new reservations booking engine called that is already available to members.The chamber will sponsor a second economic summit on April 27 at Keystone Resort.The chamber is in the best position to host such an event, since various levels of government and other organizations don’t always work together in Summit County, said Ralf Garrison of Advisory Group Inc., who spoke during the meeting. “Remember Ski The Summit?” Garrison said, and several audience members nodded in the affirmative.

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