With a new board, a new multi-year strategy and a new service offer all undertaken within the past year, the Basalt Area Chamber of Commerce has positioned itself to be a strong partner and resource for businesses in Basalt and the Mid-Valley.
“We want to be the problem-solver for business and a catalyst for economic vitality in the Valley,” says Kris Mattera, executive director of the Basalt Chamber.
“The chamber will constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of members. Following our membership survey last year, and based upon my conversations with members and observations during my first year on the job, I found that our members’ greatest needs are for advocacy, business resources, assistance with promoting their business or organization, and for the chamber to be a connector within the community.
“Our strategic plan is anchored to these needs and we will continue to do what we can to support our members,” concludes Mattera.
Basalt Chamber is advancing a business advocacy agenda based on members’ feedback that focuses on three key issues affecting small and large businesses: workforce (development and housing), healthcare and communications infrastructure. Having an agenda is key to the organization’s ability to deliver value.
“We can’t just be a chamber of events and ski passes,” says Phillip Ring, board member and the owner of Ring Development Services. “The board is focused on delivering services that are valuable to our membership, such as offering a healthcare option for our members. We’re seeing the success of SALA [Small Association Leadership Alliance] with the Vail Valley Partnership’s One Valley Healthcare Program and with the Steamboat Chamber, and we plan to offer a similar healthcare option to our members in the near future.”
The chamber is looking at partnering with SALA to offer affordable, accessible and effective healthcare options for its members. The health program aspires to simplify what has become complex, and provide a high-end, affordable healthcare solution for employers, employees and sole-proprietors. While not health insurance per se, the program would offer Basalt Chamber members’ 100 percent coverage for preventive care, a four-year 'rate lock' ensuring rate stability and is expected to lower healthcare costs for member business owners, employees, and their families.”
Mattera has been exploring various healthcare options for the past year. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every individual or business, her aim is to research opportunities and curate a list of different options for healthcare that businesses may want to consider.
Options must fit key criteria: 1) Available and accessible in Colorado, 2) Beneficial to, and meet the healthcare needs of, a majority of chamber members, and 3) Result in a substantial reduction in the cost of healthcare.
This fall, in addition to showcasing options available in the valley through member businesses, the chamber plans to launch the SALA healthcare program. Mattera is also working with area chambers and other organizations on additional healthcare solutions.
“The SALA option covers the three major buckets: catastrophic, routine doctor visits, preventive care. Medical cost-sharing is not a new idea, it is a proven substitute and has been successful for many groups for years. SALA presents a great opportunity and alternative for many Basalt Chamber members struggling with the exorbitant cost of traditional health insurance. This will be a strong and true benefit that we can offer our members,” according to Andy Gillis, a board member and owner of Invisible Fence of Western Colorado.
Collaboration and partnerships
A key component of the strategy is to build Basalt’s identity as an exceptional place to live, work and play, thereby promoting business, investment and tourism.
“I believe the chamber plays a critical role in attracting new business, residents and tourists to our community. As a relative newcomer to Basalt, I wanted to see the quality of life in our town and surrounding area continue to improve and for Basalt to be recognized as an attractive destination on the Western Slope – that’s why we chose to live in Basalt and why I joined the chamber board,” says Peter Bell, the president and CEO of Ascendigo Autism Services.
Solid partnerships are required to advance the chamber’s business agenda, and Mattera has been reaching out, collaborating with the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade [OEDIT], the Colorado Tourism Office [CTO], the Town of Basalt and other Roaring Fork Valley chambers and organizations to be a catalyst for economic vitality.
From those efforts, the chamber has been awarded several OEDIT grants to support small businesses with an incubator style co-working space that will launch this fall, and which will also offer business workshops which will be open to chamber members and the greater business community.
Grant funds have also been raised to step up branding and promotion of the professional, recreational and tourism opportunities the Basalt area has to offer. As part of this effort, the chamber has conceived a new brand identity that can be used by businesses, organizations and the town in conjunction with promotional campaigns.
The new branding will be launched in the coming months in cooperation with OEDIT’s Brand Building for Communities Initiative and the Town of Basalt.
Discover Basalt magazine, produced by the chamber, is a resource that promotes Basalt, its businesses, events and outdoor activities. This year’s issue includes a pull-out map for visitors. Last year, with assistance from a CTO marketing matching grant, the chamber launched a $50,000 marketing campaign focused on showcasing the best of Basalt. The campaign encourages visitors and even long-time locals to make a detour and explore all that Basalt offers. It provided insights that will be leveraged in future campaigns.
To address the evolving needs of its members, the chamber is committed to a solid foundation of good governance with a long-term strategy and policies/procedures to ensure operational excellence.
New marketing elements are focused on business, community and tourism, and aim to improve communication with members and other groups.
“Whether you are a business looking for a resource, a visitor searching for a multi-day itinerary or a longtime resident looking for event information, you’ll find useful information in the newly-opened chamber office on Midland Avenue, in the iconic Red Caboose at the corner of Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue, or on the new chamber website,” says Amanda Wagner, the organization’s chair.
The chamber’s annual meeting is Oct. 17. Coming soon in August is a new member survey. For more information, go to Basaltchamber.org or call 970-927-4031.
Editor’s note: RFWJ Correspondent Betina Moriera Infante is a member of the Basalt Chamber’s board.