In some cases, they conduct a review and determine it is an investment and when things get better, there will be the same opportunities as in the past to be engaged and involved. Others decide not to pay and wait to see how things are next year. Some terminate their membership for reasons unknown other than the question of value.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Chamber membership, and we know this is a result of the economic impact on our members. When businesses have shared with us that they are struggling and are unable to make their investment or make the investment at the same level, the Chamber has worked with the member to help them stay involved in hopes that they will continue their investment when the economy improves.

Ken Warner, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Presidentsubmitted

Our Chamber has lost over 70 members in 2020. In my 36 years of Chamber management, I have never experienced a loss so large. An interesting fact to note is that we have not lost any restaurants or bars despite how negatively those businesses were and continue to be impacted by COVID-19.

We hope to gain the lost memberships back in 2021, and continue to show value in new ways. We need to manage the effects of COVID-19 and not let it manage or define us. We are no longer asking prospects to join or pay for membership (which implies that you have to do something to stay active) but rather, we are phrasing it as an investment in the community.

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In my opinion, a Chamber membership is one of the best ways to invest in your community. Chamber membership is a commitment to goodwill, education, and development. We need our investors to continue their membership so the Chamber can continue to deliver the programs, services, and value that our community and local businesses have come to expect and need to rebuild a strong local and state economy.

Through our investors’ participation and engagement, your Chamber can only improve and strengthen the promotion and advocacy for the area-wide business community. Over the past year our members’ financial investments have helped the Chamber help members, non-members and the community:

In these challenging social and economic times, we are stronger together. Your Chamber continues to be the leader in community promotion, advocacy, relationships, and economic development, as well as the only organization representing business in Kandiyohi County. We have never worked harder for the community than we have over the past year and we will continue to do so. If you are a member, thank you. If not, please give us a call at (320) 235-0300.

Ken Warner is the president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.