Business Spotlight Article #9: Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce
For Immediate Release
Contact: Caitlin Christiana - Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce
Business Spotlight: Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce
by Caitlin Christiana, Springfield Regional Chamber
Old is the new young! The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, currently in its 101st year, has been serving the business community in the Springfield area for over a century. Originally, this members-only, dues-funded, business networking organization was established to protect the wellbeing of local businesses and to promote commercial and industrial interests in the community. The Chamber continues to serve this role, but a lot has changed in the last hundred years! Long ago, the Board of Directors was comprised entirely of men, distinguished leaders in their fields, most of them in their fifties and older. They were an impressive group of highly-qualified and well-respected individuals who formed the by-law policies and established the specific goals for the organization. The first President, A. M. Houghton, was selected in 2016. The first female President of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce was chosen in 1991. Mary Perry (still a familiar and friendly face in Springfield!) served three years as President, and helped to bring diversity and ingenuity to the Board. The Chamber has also seen husband and wife Presidents, Richard and Carolyn Lane, in 2001 and 2009-2010, respectively. And the first mother-daughter Presidential duo was established by E. J. Phelps and Sue Phelps Dana in the years of 1995 and 2016. Fast forward to 2017, and the Board of Directors is presently comprised of a half-and-half balance of men and women, the majority in their twenties and thirties, with a female Executive Director. This variety within the Board illustrates the Springfield Regional Chamber’s current iteration as a vibrant, energetic and resourceful organization of hard-working local leaders, willing and able to adapt, and well-poised to take on the challenges the Springfield area faces in the modern era.
The 2017 Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors:
President: Jeff Perkins - Lawrence & Wheeler Insurance
Vice President: Dan Harrington - Mascoma Savings Bank
Second Vice President: Amanda Moore - HCRS
Treasurer: Julie Corliss - One Credit Union
Past President: Sue Dana - River Valley Technical Center
Kelen Beardsley - Trout River Brewing Company
Brian Hernon - HB Energy Solutions
Meredith Kelley - Kelley Sales & Service
Larry Kraft - Springfield Hospital
Justin Lewis - Black River Produce & Reinhart Foodservice
Elizabeth Meuse - Tree Farm Campground
Lyndsie Perkins - Springfield School District
Nicole Picard - Claremont Savings Bank
Tina Rainville - Ellis, Boxer & Blake Attorneys
Scott Farr – River Valley Technical Center
Bob Flint – Springfield Regional Development Corporation
Zach McLaughlin – Springfield School District
Stephen Plunkard – Springfield On the Move
Tom Yennerell – Town of Springfield
Caitlin Christiana – Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce
With the introduction of the internet, email, websites, social media, digital photos and video, and the many other developments in technology that have come into prominence in our society, the Chamber has worked hard to keep up with the changes and effectively incorporate these advancements into their day-to-day operations. Possibilities to promote members, their services, products, events, and announcements are ever-increasing, and it’s an exciting time to be in the business of marketing. By updating methods and adopting new technologies, the Chamber ensures that their members are getting the resources and exposure they need, and the best value for their money.
Chamber membership is currently growing rapidly, and attendance is up for Chamber sponsored events. After Hours Business Mixers have been seeing excellent turnouts in recent months. These fun and casual gatherings usually draw 40 to 50 members together for networking and announcements, food, drink and socializing. In addition to promoting member businesses, the Chamber hosts a variety of community events, including the Governor’s Luncheon, Candidates Night, the Legislative Breakfast, and the Downtown Holiday Program. Small Business Saturday encourages people to Shop Local, and spread the word that hard-earned dollars spent locally support the region’s economy and promote the healthy growth of Springfield. This year’s Green Up Day involved more than 160 local participants, cleaning up area streets and enhancing the beauty of Springfield. The Chamber is in the process of planning for its 46th annual Hackers Golf Tournament, and the 35th Annual Vermont Apple Festival - a popular, free, and family-friendly event. The Chamber also serves as the administrative and fiscal agent for the Leadership Southeast Vermont Program (LSEVT), currently in its seventeenth year. The program saw a record number of twenty students enrolled in the 2016-17 course. An active and motivated class! LSEVT is an intensive interactive program that prepares individuals to create positive change in the community. The course is designed to foster an increased understanding of the specific issues facing local neighborhoods and create awareness of the resources needed to meet those challenges. The fact that the LSEVT program is thriving is an indicator of both increased collective hope, and also the spreading awareness that every individual must take some responsibility for the wellbeing of their community. The talented, hard-working class participants coming from Springfield, Brattleboro and the surrounding areas are a testament to the reality that if locals put their minds together and collaborate, they can face the problems afflicting their towns and rebuild prosperity in the region.
The Chamber is a proud member of the Downtown Streetscape Steering Committee, a panel of area leaders focused on implementing the downtown improvement projects highlighted in the new Downtown Streetscape Master Plan. In collaboration with the Town, SRDC, SOM, SWCRPC, the Springfield Housing Authority, Springfield landlords and citizens, financial institutions, and other local stakeholders, the group has established 22 key projects to tackle in the foreseeable future. The Streetscape Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss priorities, identify feasible funding sources, divvy up next actions, and ensure progress. The variety of projects spans from small, low-cost, visual improvements in the downtown corridor (planting trees, enhancing pedestrian and bike avenues, sprucing up parks, etc.) all the way to large, ambitious, expensive projects (Riverwalk extension, parking deck, roundabout, etc.). Evidence of the first of these projects can already be seen in progress with the redevelopment of the plaza in front of the Cinema. The space is being revamped with an enhanced layout to provide more inviting access and visibility, and to increase the visual appeal with new plantings. The Steering Committee is serious about getting things done and paving the way for Springfield’s renaissance. The Chamber will assist in various ways, including helping to promote available space in the downtown for redevelopment, and taking an active role in the marketing of the region to attract entrepreneurs and investors.
The overarching goal of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce is to attract new businesses, families and reliable workforce to Springfield, while simultaneously continuing to support the existing businesses in the region. A rising tide floats all boats, and thriving businesses mean a thriving community. There are plans to roll out a new online community events calendar that will serve as the hub for goings-on in the area. By providing a single site where all local events are listed, the Chamber will facilitate increased exposure and participation for the many wonderful things happening in Springfield and nearby. This will also send a clear message to visitors, tourists and potential new businesses that Springfield is a great place to live and work. The intention is to support projects and causes that reinforce the morale of the Springfield area population, because community pride is a building block for growth, and the spirit of progress will entice people from other areas to get involved and join Springfieldians in investing in the revitalization of this great town.
If you are interested to join the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce as a business or individual member, and want to become a part of Springfield’s solution, please email Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 802-885-2779, or stop by the office at 56 Main Street, Suite 2 for more information. Help us Help Springfield!