Libby chamber moving forward despite challenges

Despite recent struggles, the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce is continuing its mission to promote the greater Libby business community, Chamber board president Amber Holm said at the chamber’s monthly luncheon last week.

After the “State of the Chamber” luncheon Holm sat down with The Montanian to discuss recent chamber accomplishments and plans for the future. Holm said one of those accomplishments was the recent upsurge in membership.

“We had a membership drive earlier this summer,” she said. “During that period we recruited 17 new businesses to join the chamber. I don’t think we’ve had that many new businesses join in quite some time.”

The push for new members came out of the chamber’s membership committee, which was created earlier this year during the board’s annual retreat. Along with the membership committee, four other committees were created, each led by a member of the chamber’s board of directors.

Holm said the chamber’s events committee has been meeting every week to redesign the chamber’s promotional events. The chamber board decided to focus its limited resources and concentrate on organizing fewer, but more successful events. One of those events is the chamber’s new Business & Banter after-hours social, which gives chamber members the chance to meet and network in a casual setting.

“Business & Banter is really starting to take hold,” Holm said. “We held the first one at the chamber building, then Cabinet Peaks Medical Center hosted the July meeting. Our next one is Aug. 17, at Beyond Training. Right now, we’re booked out on Business & Banter for the next 12 months.”

Holm said the events committee is also working to redesign the chamber’s annual banquet. She didn’t want to ruin the surprise by leaking details of the new event beyond saying, “it’s going to be a game-changer.”

The chamber’s marketing committee has been hard at work creating an updated format for the chamber’s weekly newsletter and updating the visitor, vacation, and relocation information packets distributed by the chamber. They’ve also been working on the content and photographs for the chamber’s recently-released website.

Holm said the board governance committee has been working to create new by-laws as well as new policies and procedures. The policies, she said, are being developed both as board members anticipate potential future needs and in response to situations as they arise.

The final committee is the finance committee, which has been working to overcome recent financial challenges. They committee is working to craft a new budget for the organization, which hasn’t been done in several years, she said.

“It’s no secret that the chamber has been struggling financially,” Holm said. “Libby in general has some unique struggles, and we’re a part of Libby. We’re working hard to help support this community and we’re taking some hard, but necessary, steps to get the chamber’s financial house back in order. We are very thankful to have partners like the City of Libby and Lincoln County and all of our member businesses who are working with us as we take these steps. We’re moving forward with our community, and that’s what it’s all about, serving our community.”