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Networking group: work smarter, not harder

Get out of your box and work smarter, not harder.

Join one of the new Networking Initiative Groups that are forming. Groups are in the making, but new businesses can be added at any time. Groups are defined by business tenure or type. Networking “pods” are start-up businesses (one year or younger), one to three years in business, three to five years in business, non-profits, Lone Eagles (home-based businesses with the majority of work outside the community, and less than five employees) and High Flyers (most sales outside the community and more than five employees). Other groups may be added as needed.

The purpose of the groups is to allow business owners to work better together, to share ideas on how to deal with problems and overcome obstacles, and to better collaborate and help businesses avoid pitfalls that are common to a particular kind of business. Business mentors will assist the various groups. The groups might engage in rotating business site visits, study up on certain business topics, or have a guest speaker. Each group will meet as members deem necessary and select the topics that suit their needs.

If you are interested in joining a group, starting a group or would like to find out about meeting times and days, contact the Chamber at 264-2360 to receive more information. We hope business owners will find the time to participate in this important networking opportunity. It is by sharing ideas and expertise that we can help our businesses and community grow during these difficult times and in the future.

St. Patrick’s Day parade

The luck of the Irish will hit Pagosa Springs as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. The parade will take place only if we have 25 floats, so it is important to get your entries to the Chamber by Monday, March 15.

The parade has been timed to allow school children to participate in the parade and also to accommodate some of our spring break visitors coming off the mountain. Parade lineup and registration will begin on South 6th St. at 3:45 p.m. The parade will begin at 4:30. Registration forms can be faxed to you, or you can pick them up at the Chamber. There will be prizes for the best overall float, the greenest entry, and the most bizarre entry. Remember: 25 floats. Last year we had 29 floats — so let’s make this another great, green year.

Last-minute news

One of Colorado’s major non-profit funding agencies, the El Pomar Foundation, is offering a summer internship program. The offices are based in Colorado Springs and the program runs from May 15 to Aug, 30. Applicants who are able to work at least 10 weeks or more are preferred. Interns receive a weekly professional development series with classes including training in investments, grant-making, public speaking and career planning.

Parents who have children currently enrolled in a four-year college or university (does not have to be in Colorado), with an interest in public and/or community service, and with basic data base and spreadsheet knowledge and strong writing skills are encouraged to apply. There are other criteria that applicants must meet. More information about the internship program and the El Pomar Foundation may be found on their Web site, www.elpomar.org/programs, or contact Mary Jo Coulehan at the Chamber for the guidelines. Deadline for the applications is Feb. 26, with in-person interviews in mid-March/early April. This is an excellent opportunity for some of our young professionals to be exposed to one of the best business models in Colorado. This internship program is offered every year, so if they cannot apply this year, keep this opportunity in mind for 2011.

Durango auditions

Vocal and instrumental auditions will occur for the third annual Strut Your Stuff Musical Showcase at the Fort Lewis Community Concert Hall on Saturday, March 27, at 7 p.m. Auditions will be Monday and Tuesday, March 1 and 2, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Community Concert Hall. This event is co-produced by the Music in the Mountain Goes to School program. Youth ages 8-18 are invited to audition. To schedule an audition, contact Anne Beach at the Festival Office at 385-6820, or e-mail abeach@musicinthemountains.com.

Business update

Pagosa Pottery, formerly located in the Silverado Shopping Center, has now moved to the County Center Plaza, Suite G, next to the UPS Store and Mountain Spirits. They have great space for birthday parties and group activities. They will also present workshops on pottery making and jewelry making. For more information, contact them at 731-3311.

Community news

I am sorry to say that the AARP Tax-Aid Program for seniors and low-income recipients will not be provided this year, due to a lack of volunteers and the additional requirements needed for the new IRS and AARP regulations. The nearest aid program to assist seniors is located in Durango at the La Plata Senior Center at 2424 Main Ave. Interested parties should call 382-6445 and make an appointment.

The Harlem Ambassadors are returning to Pagosa Springs for an evening of fun, frolic and fantastic basketball skills. Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, the Ambassadors will play at the Pagosa Springs High School on Sunday, March 7, at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for students and children under three are free. Prices do go up at the door, so get your tickets early at the Chamber of Commerce or the Habitat for Humanity office.

Membership news

We have a new member to welcome to the chamber fold this week. We welcome RSN TV8 Pagosa Springs/Wolf Creek network. This station will soon become Outside Television, the direct counterpart of the very popular Outside Magazine. This station will have 24/7 service with outdoor, resort and lifestyle programming featuring local advertisers, local weather, dining, adventure and community events. RSN TV 8 also provides full-service HD Production and Post Production services capable of broadcast film and television production. Advertisers will also have exposure to regional and national levels including the national Web site, www.rsn.com.

Renewals this week are plentiful. Welcome back to the Pagosa Lodge; All Seasons Lake Lodge with Ann Marie Castor; Scott Lee and Sherwin Williams; Coin Crafter and Engravers; Kirk Becker and Pagosa’s Farmers Insurance agency; and Diamond Hitch Stables. Our non-profit renewals this week include the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, Habitat for Humanity, Pope John Paul II/Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Churches, Community United Methodist Church, and Centerpoint Church.

The next Rural Philanthropy Days meeting will be Wednesday, March 10, at noon at the Ross Aragon Community Center. It is a brown bag lunch. After this meeting, the networking group will also meet for an hour. If representatives of non-profits would like to find out more about Rural Philanthropy Days (in Mancos, June 9-11), contact Mary Jo Coulehan at 264-2360.