Make the McKenzie Connection!

Chamber readying 2017 outreach effort

Business group to expand membership and involvement

Ray at Chamber

VIDA: Getting a ”No” response when he asked people if they’d reached out to the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce for help with their business was not what Ray Blair wants to hear in the future. Speaking at a town hall meeting at the Vida McKenzie Community Center last Friday, the organizations’s new executive director pledged to work on plans for the group to have, “A better impact on the community and its business partners.”

Expanding on that approach, Blair laid out a number of ways cooperation could improve. “The Chamber is a wonderful resource to help you grow your business,” he noted. He named branding opportunities, educational seminars and marketing opportunities as part of those resources.

“We at the Chamber are not the experts,” Blair said. “You guys are at what you do every day. The Chamber is yours, not ours. You need to be part of it and run it the way you want it to run.”

To learn more about what people are looking for in the future he said he plans visit businesses on an individual basis to develop partnerships. “Anything that’s going to get done is this community is going to get done by this community,” he said. “So let’s use our resources, start consolidating and working together so we’re rolling in the same direction.”

Part of the Chamber’s plans for community outreach include a newly developed “Welcome Basket” for people new to the area. Estimates are that between house sales & rentals, that number comes to about 90 households per year. Blair said whenever someone new moves in he or some other Chamber representative will drop by and deliver one of the baskets, which contain a variety of items ranging from dried blueberries, hazelnuts or lavender to informational booklets about recreational opportunities and coupons from local businesses.

During a question and answer session with the audience having a clear mission statement and a strategic plan for the Chamber was suggested. Others wanted to know how they could support more Arts involvement with the Chamber, along with having additional live music sites on the River.

Responding to the enthusiasm from the group, Blair commented that, “This is a wonderful community. I lived in Miami for 40 years. I have been here for a year and a half and am more connected here that I was in Miami.”

In other business the board decided to send a letter of concern to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding actions that could include the closure of the Leaburg Trout Hatchery as well as impacts to fish stocking. A representative of the Corps, as well as federal state and county officials will also be invited to discuss the issue at an upcoming public meeting. Board members for 2017 were also elected. They include Alyssa Brownlee, Ken Engelman, Jim Thomas, Dave D’Avanzo, Carol Tanenbaum, Nancy Boyce, Nadine Scott, Chris LaVoie, and Chere Estrin.

Image: Ray Blair, the McKenzie Chamber’s new executive director, said business owners can expect him to be visiting them soon in an effort to improve the business group.


McKenzie River Reflections


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