What does being a member of the Chamber of Commerce really mean? It means different things to different people and to different businesses. My goal as the director of the chamber is to help support all of the activities, events and businesses here in our community. If you stop and think about it, all of those things are really interconnected and where one succeeds, so does the other.
One of the most visible roles we play in the community is that of event planners. At the chamber, we are always looking for ways to boost activity around town and one way to do that is to host community events. The goal with each of our events is different. Some of them are focused on offering a fun, family- and community-oriented activity while others are geared toward a more adult crowd. Some are designed to bring exposure to the services and offerings of our member businesses.
There are really two keys when it comes to hosting events. First, we have to draw a crowd. If people are not attending an event, then we are missing the mark. And second, we have to have the support of area businesses and our members, both financially through sponsorships and physically through volunteering.
But why should your business want to get involved? There are a variety of reasons, but I’ll name a couple of the big ones. First, through sponsoring an event, you get advertising and promotional perks for your business. In the advertising and marketing we do at the chamber for each event, our sponsors are mentioned and publicized. Our posters get printed with logos of our sponsors and my interviews done with local media mention our business sponsors. During the event, those who attend are exposed to the business sponsors through signs, posters, banners, programs and all event materials the day of the event. Second, when your business is sponsoring a community event, you show the public that your business is one that cares about the community, that you give back and that your business has a vested interest in supporting a healthy, vibrant and thriving community.
Remember that interconnected thought? That goes right back to a business. If consumers have a business name at the top of their mind, it may be because they see your logo, name or the friendly face of one of your employees during a community event. They remember you and think the next time they are in need of a product or service that you offer, your business is the one to visit.
Now I know that not all businesses have thousands of dollars to throw at sponsorships. For that reason, at the chamber we offer a variety of different sponsorship levels for all of our events so we can find something that does fit the means and abilities of a business. I also want to make sure there’s an interest in the event that a business chooses to sponsor. I want to make sure it fits the mission of a business.
I also mentioned that we need physical support for our events. Volunteers are so important to everything we do. To me, giving time is more valuable sometimes than giving from a wallet. At each of our events we need help setting up, working during and then tearing down afterwards and we couldn’t do this without the members of the chamber and this community. The help we receive is what makes everything we do possible.
Most of our volunteer shifts are broken down into two-hour increments so our volunteers don’t have to give up a whole day or weekend to help. Just an hour or two here and there can make a huge difference. Again, we will ask our volunteers what types of things they like to do and make sure that we get a good fit for their expertise and interest when it comes to the volunteer tasks we might assign.
I’m mentioning this now because I have two events coming up in June where I again am looking to the members of our community to help make them possible. The first is our annual Art Fair on the Courthouse Lawn which will be held Saturday, June 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This annual event helps to kick off the summer season and our crowd is usually upwards of 3,000 people all gathered in our downtown for a day of fun. There are so many activities that day that make it a great chance to get out and about and check out all that Rhinelander has to offer.
The second June event is the Hodag Block Party, which will be held on Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is a fun-filled, family-oriented afternoon downtown following the Hodag Run for your Life. We’ll have children’s games, entertainment, live music, and food and drinks all downtown for you to check out.
I’d love to talk with those who are interested in helping out with either of these activities. Give us a call at the chamber at (715) 365-7464 to learn more about volunteering for these events.