Vail Chamber works to rebuild membership |

Vail Chamber works to rebuild membership

Scott N. Millersmiller@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The group aimed at businesses in Vail is a different-looking organization than it was a few years ago. But supporters say the Vail Chamber & Business Association still has important work to do.The chamber held its annual meeting Friday in Vail, and amid presentations by town and Vail Resorts officials, association director Rick tenBraak spent some time talking about the group and its goals.The Vail chamber is 100 percent funded by membership dues, tenBraak said. And with just 180 members in 2011, the group is running on a tight, tight budget. In the past, the group had more members and received some town funding, mostly for events and its “Premier Impressions” customer service rewards program.The events – the Barbecue Bonanza in Vail Village and the Southwest Fiesta in Lionshead – used to depend in large part on financial assistance from the Vail Commission on Special Events. That funding has disappeared as the town committee has shifted its money to other events.This year, tenBraak said the chamber will focus on a sidewalk sale in August, in order to attract shoppers already in Vail. The sale, tenBraak said, could be used to both clear out inventory and introduce new items.The Premier Impressions program had gotten “pretty expensive,” with prizes and a big end-of-season party, tenBraak said. But, he added, the chamber board wants to revive the program in some form to continue a focus on customer service.While the chamber is working to remain relevant to members, a couple of board members said the group’s primary job is its role as a source of information for the business community.”The other (business) groups do a good job, but somebody needs to speak for the business community in Vail,” board member Bill Suarez said. “Those other groups don’t go to Town Council meetings, and that’s important.”Fellow board member Michael Stoughton agreed, adding that the informational part of the chamber’s mission is the “role we really believe in.”And, Suarez said, he’s optimistic about the chamber’s future.”It feels like we’re on the rebound,” Suarez said. “We’ve potentially got four new board members coming on, and we’re trying to get more involvement from Lionshead.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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