Whats an Eagle chamber to do?
EAGLE, Colorado Does Eagle, Colorados business community need to focus on its own needs, or should it to reach out to its neighbors valleywide?For five weeks, Eagle business owners have been gathering for lunch and conversation about how the community can prosper during these difficult financial times. During a Thursday session at the Dusty Boot in Eagle, members debated structure and how creative ideas can be harnessed into an organizational structure.Tim Cochrane, the former executive director of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce, introduced the idea of a whole new beast a new chamber that would act as an umbrella organization for more community-centered business associations based in Eagle, Gypsum and Edwards. He argued that there are logistical reasons to maintain the existing chamber particularly because it has a 501 C6 federal tax designation that enables it to disburse government grants. However, Cochrane noted that the needs of the separate communities have already spurred marketing groups specific to Eagle and Gypsum. He said the reorganized chamber would actually foster those efforts and still provide needed collaboration between the communities.What I wanted to avoid was to have islands up and down the valley not communicating with one another, he said.Under Cochranes proposal, the new chamber board would have 14 members four each from the respective Eagle and Gypsum business associations, three from unincorporated areas of Eagle County and one nonvoting member from the towns of Eagle and Gypsum and Eagle County.His reorganization idea drew both support and questions among the business leaders. Some applauded the idea, saying it represented an important movement in breaking down barriers between communities. Others questioned whether the organization would prove unwieldy in practical operation. And, as Roberto Cammarota, of Pastatively restaurant, noted, long-range planning is important, but What the hell do we do in the immediate future?Doug Seabury, of Everyday Outfitters, noted that immediate work has already begun. He said the Eagle Downtown Merchants Association is already morphing into a new entity called One Eagle that represents all commercial operations around town, not just along Broadway. That group is mobilizing to plan special events and promotions.Taking the next step is always the hardest thing, said Jan Rosenthal Townsend, a current Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce executive board member and a supporter of Cochranes reorganization plan. She argued that the One Eagle group is already moving forward with its marketing plan, and those efforts would actually be supported by the reorganization.While Thursdays lunch crowd couldnt reach consensus on the chamber plan, participants did agree to keep meeting. The original forum series was billed as a five-week gathering, but that schedule will continue for at least two more sessions. The group will meet from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Grand Avenue Grille and from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 2 at the Eagle Diner.