by Rick Langenberg:
The days of Green Mountain Falls, Cascade and Chipita Park civic leaders hiding in the shade when it comes to promoting their communities and their hefty lineup of business activities, amenities and events have ended. The push for a revived Ute Pass Triangle Chamber of Commerce took a major leap forward last week during an organizational meeting at the Marcroft Hall. “I think there is a lot of enthusiasm with this group and we are going to have much stronger participation than in the past,” said Dick Bratton, the former mayor of GMF and the new treasurer of the Triangle Chamber of Commerce.
Already, the new group has enlisted close to 40 members within a several month period. Chamber leaders last week stressed the importance of working together to network, promote the area and their businesses, organize events, communicate with elected leaders and yes, have a good time. According to new president Amily Beidelman-Almy, the owner of the Mucky Duck restaurant, the new chamber could serve as an ideal vehicle for “unifying the entire Ute Pass region.” But at the same time, she and other chamber leaders cautioned against trying to do too much with too few people, a burn-out dilemma that quashed previous chamber efforts. “We don’t want to let history repeat itself,” warned Beidelman-Almy. “We just want to take on the Ute Pass,” she added. They plan to complete a few remaining organizational efforts in preparation for 2013, when the new chamber plans to hit the ground running with a spree of committees and much stronger interaction with local businesses in the entire Ute Pass region and elected leaders.
Last week, the group approved new by-laws, a mission statement, goals and objectives, and more importantly; supported efforts to boost membership by including local businesses and individuals who have ties with the Ute Pass communities. The group’s previous 1972 by-laws had fairly restrictive rules regarding who could serve on the board and even who could join. According to the proposed plans, the new chamber also is forming a variety of committees, such as marketing and tourism, events, membership and development, government and community relations and Bronc Day activities. And already, several members have been selected to head up these groups. In essence, the chamber wants to serve as the main marketing arm for the region and to help support local businesses, organizations and residents.
One of its main marching orders hinges on having a stronger interactive Internet presence and promoting the Ute Pass area through the social media more. A revived chamber is one of the goals advocated by the Green Mountain Falls Economic Sustainability Committee, which was formed as part of a way to generate more revenue for the town and to spruce up local activity. The Sustainability Committee is now in the process of finalizing a new website for the chamber. An earlier meeting was held several months ago in Cascade. At that time, a formal board was selected. Beidelman-Almy was then selected as the chamber president. During last week’s meeting, comments were somewhat mixed regarding the interests of the new group, with one overall theme: the need to work together more. “It all about networking,” said Kevin Henry of the Chipita Lodge, who also serves as a chamber board director. “It’s the collaboration that is really going to help us.” Several members expressed an interest in spearheading similar campaigns as what is attempted by the Manitou Springs and Woodland Park chambers, such as the “Manitou bucks” or “shop locally” efforts. They also favored taking steps to attract more tourists through brochures, directories and other new promotional techniques, such as an innovative Facebook page. One member cited the importance of having a chamber representative present at GMF board of trustee meetings. Bratton stressed the importance of having a chamber that represents all three communities and not just Green Mountain Falls. Beidelman-Almy described the new chamber as a good unifying vehicle for both residents and local business owners.
One slightly divisive subject, though, deals with future events. Henry, as he did in the earlier meeting last May, made a pitch for bringing back the July 4th fireworks celebration. “I would like to find a way to make that happen,” said Henry. He stated that this event in the past generated many visitors from outside the area, including Colorado Springs. In fact, Henry believes the de-railing of this celebration led to the breakup of the previous chamber group. But some chamber leaders are less than enthusiastic about lighting up the skies in GMF with fireworks during a time of year, highlighted by severe drought-like conditions. According to Bratton, the last time the fireworks occurred, local crews ended up squashing a small fire shortly after they shot off fireworks. “The fire danger is just too high,” said Bratton. “We have to wait until we get more moisture.” Besides the fire situation, these shows ended due to insurance problems associated with the property site where the fireworks were shot off from. For 2013, the new chamber is mainly rallying behind such events as the Thin Air National Car Show, the Green Box Arts Festival, GMF Parties in the Park, Summer Music Series, Bronc Day and a variety of other events in Chipita Park and Cascade. A formal election will be held in early January, when board members will be selected to one and two-year terms. The current charge to get involved with the Ute Pass Triangle Chamber of Commerce is $25 for business and $10 for residents. For more information about the Ute Pass Triangle Chamber of Commerce, call 684-2008.