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Don’t miss November membership meetings

There will be two important membership meetings in November.

The first deals with the Colorado Employer Solution Health Plan.

The Chamber is working with M3, a major insurance company headquartered in Wisconsin that is designing programs for large businesses, the public sector and Chambers. M3 was recently recognized as one of the Best Places to Work and as one of the top 100 largest brokers in insurance. They were also the presenting sponsor for the Top 50 Businesses to Watch in Colorado for 2010 and will also serve in that capacity for 2011.

The new M3 plan is called the Colorado Employer Solution Health Plan and it will offer a special group health plan for Chamber member businesses with as few as two employees participating. If you are a sole proprietor, there are some other options you can investigate as well.

The CES plan is a high deductible health plan; however, it is different in that it is used in conjunction with a Health Reimbursement Account. The CES plan caps an employer’s liability for claims reimbursement by placing an individual and overall annual limit on the amount available to the members under the HRA, making it unique and extremely competitive. This plan does not limit you to one insurance carrier or limit your medical provider.

We are encouraged by the possibilities this plan offers in savings and flexibility. There are many plans out there, but not many conducive to the southwest area due to the limitation in health insurance providers. Premium rates also continue to climb with little end in sight. This plan offers an alternative in that, typically, approximately 70 percent of people have $500 or less of annual medical expenses — so why pay for the high premium costs? Yet the 10 percent who do utilize the majority of the health plan need the insurance coverage, and both the employee and employer are protected.

The information sessions will be held at the Chamber of Commerce conference room on Thursday, Nov. 18. The sessions will be held at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. We hope these times will give everyone who is interested an opportunity to come by for an hour presentation with a question-and-answer session. Please R.S.V.P., as space is limited.

This program is good for large and small businesses, in the private and public sectors. The larger your company, the more potential you have to save your hard-earned money. However, if you own a small company, you now have the opportunity to obtain group health insurance.

We are all looking for ways to reduce our insurance premiums, or offer some type of insurance coverage for business owners and employees. This is the first time that the Chamber has been able to offer a plan to the membership and we are excited to add this amenity to the Chamber’s benefit list. We hope interested business owners will be able to attend. Call the Chamber at 264-2360 to schedule the time that works for you.

The second membership meeting concerns budget development and management — what you need to know to manage your business by the numbers.

This business education session will be held Tuesday, Nov. 16. The meeting will be an expanded Business Bites luncheon with the continuation of our emphasis this quarter on finance. Terryl Peterson, owner of CFO Services in Durango, will give us guidelines on developing a budget and cash flow roadmap and discuss how to incorporate these guidelines into our management practices. If you are starting a business, expanding a business, or trying to figure out if you’re going to have enough cash to get you through your slow season, you should attend this class.

The class will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center. Plan 1 1/2 hours for the session, including lunch time. The price of the class is $20 per person for Chamber members and $25 for non-members. The price includes lunch, worksheets and lots of valuable information.

Peterson was the CFO for Lore International Institute for 15 years. For the past 18 months, she has been consulting with small businesses with an emphasis on tying financial measures to strategy and helping companies succeed. She assists the Southwest SBDC as a consultant and is hoping to bring her knowledge to Pagosa businesses to help them achieve higher profit margins and better cash flow management. Terryl offers this session through the SBDC Leading Edge program and now offers it to the Pagosa Chamber membership through our Business Bites series. Don’t let the slow season or new business expenditures catch you by surprise. Spending $20 could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. To register for the class, call the Chamber at 264-2360.

Sponsorships

The Chamber is grateful for all the sponsorships businesses have donated to our events in past years. As with all organizations, we try to provide great exposure and ask event attendees to recognize businesses that support our efforts.

The Chamber has designed some new sponsorship packages that are conducive to many budgets and different Chamber membership levels. Pick a sponsorship level, give us your logo and banner, and we take care of the rest for the whole year. Included in the different sponsorship levels are some new amenities that will be rolled out next year, such as banner ads for your business that will be available on the Chamber website. People can click through your banner ad and go straight to your business website. We will also be revamping the newsletter and there will be better business exposure through the newsletter. Depending on the sponsorship level, there will also be event tickets for every event included in your package, including annual membership meeting tickets, SunDowner passes, Passport to Pagosa and Bands, Brews, Etc. tickets, and other rewards. Use these tickets as employee incentives or customer appreciation gifts, thereby saving yourself even more money and time.

During the month of November, if you sign up for a sponsorship package, you will save 10 percent. Doesn’t seem like much? It could be savings anywhere from $30 for an associate package to $350 for a platinum sponsorship. Sponsorship packages can also be paid in quarterly increments to help with your cash flow projections. These sponsorship packages help alleviate the constant requests for input, as well as give businesses a better return for their sponsorship dollars. We have sent out a Constant Contact e-mail blast outlining the different sponsorship levels. We also have pamphlets describing the different levels. I think you will be amazed at the exposure, comprehensiveness and payback these packages have to offer to your business. Save yourself the hassle of dealing with the constant requests. Sign up now and save for next year. Read your e-blast, pick up a brochure or schedule an appointment with Mary Jo or Kimberley, and find out about these comprehensive sponsorship opportunities.

Membership

We have renewing members to highlight this week: The Pagosa Springs SUN; Tony Simmons and Pagosa Brewing Co.; All Seasons Lake Lodge; the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center; and the Arts Perspective Magazine.

Our friends of the Chamber renewing this week are Don and Nancy Strait, community volunteers extraordinaire.

This is the time of year when business owners should be looking at their prospects for the rest of the year and planning for 2011. Utilize Chamber services and get the most out of your membership. Remember, there is also a free Maximizing Your Membership class on the fourth Monday of the month at 11:30 a.m. Lunch is included, as well as a wealth of information to best help you maximize your Chamber membership. Call Kimberley to reserve your spot.