BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Luke Bauman ushered in the 21st Century as president of the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce in 2000, as evidenced by the plaque that still hangs on his office wall, and will usher in the ‘20s as the entity’s incoming president, as well.
With the new year comes a focus on opportunity, and Bauman believes the community of Delano has a great one.
“We have an amazing opportunity in our city’s history to be among the best places in the state to live and work,” Bauman said. “ . . . We need to recognize that fact and do what we can to help preserve that and be ready for the future. The business community is really, probably, the tip of the sword. We’re one of the organizations that’s at the forefront of that effort.”
As for the Chamber’s priorities, Bauman has some ideas in mind, as well.
“The Chamber, this coming year, we want to focus on membership involvement and membership growth,” Bauman said. “We want to know what we’re doing well and what we can improve on . . . We want our members to recognize all the benefits we can offer now and discuss potential opportunities we might be able to offer in the future for our members.”
Not only does the Chamber serve the business community, but also the community as a whole, according to Bauman.
“We want local businesses to join for their own benefit, but we also want a membership that understands what it means to be at the service of the community at-large,” Bauman said. “Nobody wins if everyone is just in it for themselves . . . When you’re oriented outward, that really makes a difference.”
Bauman said he has learned that mindset from growing up in Delano and, specifically, from a number of community leaders over the years.
“Having lived in Minneapolis and Alexandria, I can attest to the fact that Delano has an outstanding tradition of service,” Bauman said. “It seems like everyone here is involved in at least two or three different things. I love being a part of that . . . There are a lot of folks who have inspired me, over the years, to step up and do what I can to help out.”
Bauman helps out in a number of ways, as a Delano Lion, an active member and lector at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish who is also involved with the local archdiocese, and a member of the Delano Sportsmen’s Club. He is also involved in politics.
As a businessman, he owns Bauman Financial and North Central Insurance, which offers annuities and insurance of all kinds.
He is a fifth-generation Delano resident.
He is joined on the Chamber executive board by Vice President Gabe Licht, of Delano Herald Journal; Secretary Heidi Goldbeck, of Calbrandt; Treasurer Daryl MacLean, of MacLean Law Office; Sabrina Stevens, of Bagy Jo; Mike Nielsen, of Sherman Insurance; Tom Screeden, of Farmers State Bank of Hamel; Josh Gehlen, of Minnesota Lakes Bank; and Past President Michelle Harwood, of Harwood’s Body Shop.
“We have an amazing, dedicated, smart, experienced board,” Bauman said. “That’s going to be the key to a successful year. All I do is run meetings. It’s the board that makes things happen, not the president.”
The board will work with new Executive Director Jo Ann Huebsch to achieve its goals.
“I think our new director, Jo Ann, brings an amazing skillset to the table,” Bauman said. “I’ve been very impressed with her level of enthusiasm. Her willingness to think creatively about the challenges that face our organization overall and how we can operate more smoothly.”