By Starrla Cray
MONTROSE and WAVERLY, MN Behind many of the successful businesses in Waverly and Montrose stands the Montrose-Waverly Chamber of Commerce.
“I continue to encourage businesses that have not yet joined to contact us,” said chamber member Kent Houston. “We do a number of things that are enjoyable.”
From sponsoring the Waverly beanbag toss tournament to providing free seminars, the chamber works to enhance the quality of life for people who live, work, or spend leisure time in Montrose or Waverly.
The chamber began eight years ago in Montrose, said Jim Tourville, president of the chamber.
“We decided right away we wanted it in both towns,” he said.
Each year, the chamber develops specific goals. In 2009, the goals listed on the chamber web site include providing monetary contributions of $1,000 to local organizations, participation in community events, and assemble information highlighting chamber members, among others.
“Our big push this year is to increase membership,” Tourville said. The aim is a total of at least 60 businesses. So far, things have been going well, he said.
“We got three or four new ones in the past few months,” he said.
Annual membership dues for each chamber member is $75, a fee that many chamber members are happy to pay.
Houston joined about a year after the chamber began in Montrose and Waverly.
“Just like the bank and the other long-time members, we feel that community involvement and organizations that support the community are very important,” he said.
“It’s a really good chance to network,” Tourville said. In addition, the chamber helps businesses to “have a place where they can have one voice,” he said.
In the past, chamber members have had the opportunity to participate in the Montrose-Waverly Business Expo. This year, the expo was planned for this fall, but has been rescheduled for spring of 2010.
The booth fee for chamber members is $50, Houston said. Non-chamber members can purchase a booth space for $75. They are also given a certificate for $25 off next year’s membership, if they decide to join.
Tourville said he would definitely recommend participation in the expo.
“It’s a good chance to give back to the community, as well as showcase your business,” he said.
Typically, the expo consists of about 64 booths at the Montrose Elementary School.
“We have all the local restaurants there,” Tourville said.
Local businesses, such as karate and dance studios, have demonstrations every 45 minutes.
The chamber donates to many local organizations, including the scholarship funds, fire departments, royal ambassadors, and more.
“We encourage businesses to participate as much as they are able,” Houston said. “We very much understand that some business owners don’t have a lot of time, and we also appreciate the financial contribution of the yearly membership due.”
Being listed as a chamber member is brings benefits to the business, as well as the community, Houston added.
“Their involvement in the chamber shows that they’re willing to be involved in the community,” he said. “Hopefully, because of that involvement, others in the community will see that and patronize those businesses.”
“Community bucks” are another way the Montrose-Waverly Chamber promotes local businesses. Businesses use them like a gift certificate for rewards and promotions.
“It’s a nice way to provide incentives or to say ‘thank you’ to a customer,” Houston said. “Merchants who accept them can redeem them as cash,” he said.
The purpose of the certificates are to promote local businesses and “maintain shopping within the community,” Houston said.
For every $100 worth of community bucks that are purchased, there is $10 off, Houston added.
The community bucks can be purchased in denominations of one, five, 10, or 20. For more information about community bucks, call Houston at Citizens State Bank in Waverly at (763) 658-4417 extension 35.
Anyone who is interested in joining the chamber is encouraged to attend the monthly luncheon meeting, the second Thursday of every month. For people coming for the first time, lunch will be paid for by the chamber.
To RSVP for a meeting, contact Tourville at (612) 508-6474 or (763) 675-3121.