Creating a new chamber of commerce is like putting together a puzzle. This requires bringing community members together, determining how they fit in, and assembling the nonprofit organization piece by piece.
In 2019, Spring Grove community members identified a need in the community. They came together to organize a chamber of commerce for Spring Grove and the surrounding area to meet this need.
Founding member Teresa Fegyak described, “I saw a strong need to coordinate a little better. We have no problem with people stepping in and doing things and having a strong community. So when we held a brainstorming session for companies, collaboration was one of the main points. »
The initiative to form the Spring Grove Area Chamber of Commerce was led by founding members Stephanie Gulbranson, Edina Realty; Jacqui Van Minsel, Spring Grove Communications; Jessi Strinmoen, Shooting Star Native Seeds; and Teresa Fegyak, Merchants Bank, with assistance from the city’s Economic Development Association (EDA) Director, Courtney Bergey Swanson.
Based on discussions with community leaders, business owners, nonprofit leaders and residents, the community envisions the Chamber as: “More than a membership organization, the Chamber of Spring Grove area is the heart of our community where businesses, individuals and resources come together to build the vibrancy of our local economy.
The mission statement is the driving force that guides the board. The mission states that the Chamber “will serve as a catalyst to enhance the vitality and continued growth of the Spring Grove area.”
The current board includes President Gulbranson, Vice President Van Minsel, Secretary Strinmoen, Treasurer Fegyak, City Liaison Julie Amundson, Director Jana Elton, Minnesota Secured Title; and director Jess Morken, Winneshiek Medical Center.
The Board has contracted with Executive Director Marlene Deschler and Director of Communications and Public Relations Angie Solie to assist the Board with member development and communications as well as to help set up the structure of the Chamber. Future plans for the Chamber are to have at least one part-time person to manage membership development, publicity, activities and events.
Spring Grove businesses are very supportive of the Chamber. Currently there are about 20 members and hopefully within five years the Chamber will have 80 to 100 members.
President Gulbranson said, “Our members have a passion and a love for Spring Grove. Steeped in Norwegian heritage and tradition, our city is booming, and a big reason for that is our business district. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our local business owners have shown their resilience and determination to “weather through the storm”. They behaved in stride and worked hard to support each other. As a result, we felt compelled to get this Chamber off the ground to work closely with these businesses to advance their efforts and encourage the importance of supporting our local merchants and entrepreneurs.
Supporting local businesses in Spring Grove is made easy with Chamber Bucks, a monetary check issued by the Chamber. Chamber Bucks are available in $5, $25, $50 and $100 increments and are redeemable at any Spring Grove area business that accepts checks. Chamber Dollars can be purchased from Chamber members.
One piece of the puzzle is determining what the House will look like in five years. Chairman Gulbranson explained, “Our goal is to continue to support our local businesses by meeting and exceeding their needs and strengthening our already vibrant business district. We provide them with opportunities for growth and encourage businesses to complement each other with local happenings and happenings.
Fundraising activities play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a chamber. In addition to recruiting members, the Chamber sponsored a Facebook photo contest and selected four recognizable images – Black Hammer School House, Christmas in the Village, Spring Grove Water Tower and Wilmington Lutheran Church. The photos were used to create a collection of four different 500 piece puzzles. The puzzles are available for purchase at the following Spring Grove stores, Merchants Bank, Turquoise Tomato, and City Hall.
What awaits you this summer in Spring Grove? According to event organizer Fegyak, “Music & Market is slated to go.” Every Wednesday, from May 11 to October 12, the Chamber hosts Musique & Marché. The live event takes place from 4-7 p.m. in the summer and 4-6 p.m. in the fall in downtown Spring Grove on Maple Drive, next to Viking Park. Enjoy live music, food vendors and the farmer’s market. Attendees will be treated to tasty entrees from Abby’s Concessions, Trinity, Houston County Cattlemen and other local food vendors. Dance to Cat and the Fiddle, Buck Hollow, the Executives and other favorite musicians.
Fegyak said, “At the moment we don’t have a brick and mortar or phone number. It’s just our board, and we have Gmail. We have our Facebook page. We make it very easy to communicate through our Gmail, and people ask a lot of questions on Facebook.
The Chamber’s Gmail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their Facebook page is @sgareachamber. More information about the Chamber is available at www.springgrovemn.com. The membership application is available on the website and on Facebook.
Fegyak summed up the Chamber’s role in the community: “We want to be the go-to source for businesses and community members looking to coordinate things. This is what we are aiming for. »