Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2011? This is the time of year where in between all the baking, family parties and present wrapping, we take the time to look back at the year in review. All of the news media create their lists of the most talked about events, celebrities and happenings for 2011. I figured now was as good a time as any to do the same thing.
For me, the biggest change in 2011 came with the start of my new position here at the chamber. I came on board in May, and so far it’s been a great experience. One thing I’m thankful for is the support of chamber members, area businesses and the Rhinelander community as a whole. Moving back to the Home of the Hodag might have been the easiest move I’ve ever made. As a community, you again welcomed me with open arms. I was surprised and humbled by the number of you that remembered me from my days at Channel 12, and your warm welcome is something I am truly grateful for this year.
I look at the steps the Rhinelander Chamber has made over the last year and again, I couldn’t be more thankful. In 2011 we had the opportunity to welcome 72 new members to the chamber. Now that is something to brag about. I look at our list of new members, and it makes me smile every time.
We had some very successful events in 2011 as well. We celebrated 30 years of the Hodag Musky Challenge in September, with a larger number of fishermen than we’ve had in years. Our Hodag Home Show booth space was completely full, and we even had a waiting list of businesses who wanted to participate. Our programs, like Business After 5, the Rhinelander Young Professionals and Leadership Oneida County, are all growing strong and continue to be great benefits we can offer both our members and the Rhinelander Community.
I couldn’t do half the things we are able to do at the chamber if I didn’t have a great base group of volunteers. Each and every member of the Chamber Board volunteers their time and contributes on a daily basis to the efforts of the chamber. Our Ambassador Club is a great outreach for the chamber with our new businesses in the area, and it’s volunteers that help make our events and programs run as smoothly as they do. I can’t thank each and every one of you who has lent a hand this year enough.
I’m excited to look back at what a great year 2011 was, and I can’t wait to get started on 2012. We have some great new ideas and programs to kick off in this coming year. The first big event on the list is the upcoming Annual Chamber Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Northwoods Banquet Center. I hope you’ll join us because I plan on showing you, our members, how grateful I truly am to have your support.
I wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season. Here’s to a great 2011, and an even better 2012.
Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lara Reed is available at (715) 365-7464.