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Green Business Leadership Awards at the annual meeting

In addition to its Citizen and Volunteer of the Year awards, in 2010 the Chamber, in conjunction with the Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS), began administering the Green Business Leadership Award.

Since it was the first year, seven businesses were recognized for their efforts in demonstrating leadership and innovation, promoting and implementing “green” business practices.

This award will be given out again at the 2011 annual Chamber Membership Celebration to be held Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

In order to qualify for the award a business must demonstrate practices in at least three of the following categories: Leadership and Innovation incorporating green business practices into the work environment; Efficiency and Conservation Measures with energy and water; Transportation — offering options and alternatives to single occupant vehicles, reduction in reliance on fossil fuel vehicles or incentives for alternative transportation methods; Pollution and Waste — reducing, reusing and recycling practices; Manufacturing and Purchasing — focusing on local, sustainable or cooperative processes; Other — which would include education, civic engagement, environmental preservation, etc.

A business can either be nominated or can self-nominate.

This year, the businesses will be separated into different categories such as utility companies, small and larger businesses.

There will also be an award for the most improved business.

Even if you did not get nominated last year, but implemented some “best practices” you think qualify your organization by demonstrating yours is the most improved green business, please submit your qualifications and gain some “bragging rights.”

SOS would like to honor those businesses that make an extra effort in reducing the carbon footprint, while utilizing healthy and profitable business practices.

Nomination forms can be obtained at the Chamber, we can fax them to your place of business or you can download them from the Chamber website at www.pagosaspringschamber.com. The Green Business form is listed on the home page with the other nomination forms.

Forms need to be turned into the chamber by Monday, Jan. 9. If you have any questions about the process, contact me at the Chamber at 264-2360.

The Chamber also hopes to continue to work with Archuleta County to make recycling efforts, in particular box removal, a reality for our businesses. We would like to pursue the possibility the county can purchase a baler and work to make the process at least break even, while helping our businesses. Together, we can take small steps to improve our community and work more efficiently.

Citizen, Volunteer of the Year

Time is also drawing to a close to submit nomination forms for the Citizen and Volunteer of the Year.

These awards are given out at the Chamber Annual Celebration. Nomination forms can be obtained at the Chamber, from the Chamber website, or they can be faxed to you. We have extended the due date for these forms to be turned in until Monday, Jan. 9.

There are so many people who should be recognized for their selfless efforts in this community. Residents should take a few minutes to write something down about an individual or organization and submit that form to the Chamber. Please be as descriptive as possible as the voting committee, made up of some Chamber board members and at-large community members, may not know your candidate as well as you do or know all the attributes your candidate possesses.

For both categories, the nominees must give back to the community through time or financial assistance. They must also contribute their efforts outside their normal work duties, expecting nothing in return for their service. For the Citizen of the Year award, the individual, couple or organization must have been in the community for at least three years. They must also contribute to the framework of the community in at least one of the following four categories: Lifestyle, Philanthropic, Cultural and Economic. Again, contributions made must be outside the scope of the normal work environment and contributions must be made with no expectation of reward.

We hope people will take the time to recognize individuals or groups that give so much to the success of our community. If you have any questions, contact the Chamber of Commerce for clarification or to request a form.

Small business development

There will be two multi-class sessions for two very different industries —one for farmers and ranchers, and one for the artistic or creative person.

“Tilling the Soil of Opportunity” is a Leading Edge Entrepreneurial Seminar devoted to the unique needs of the farming, ranching and agricultural related businesses.

The course begins in Durango on Thursday, Jan. 19, and continues for 10 weeks from 6-9 p.m. every week. The tuition cost is $280 for the entire session or $50 for each class. There are also scholarships available. To find out more about “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity,” contact the SBDC office at Fort Lewis at 247-7009. Deadline for registering for the classes is Friday, Jan. 6.

The course for Creative Industry also begins on Thursday, Jan. 19, and runs for six weeks. The classes are also in Durango and will be held from 6-8 p.m. every week. The cost for this session is $150. There will be cash awards given to the top three business plans at the end of the course. You will learn how other successful artistic businesses have survived and how they thrive. You will also learn about branding, marketing and e-commerce, legal, tax and financial necessities, and how to write a business plan.

For more information, contact the SBDC at 247-7009.

Ringing in the new

At the beginning of 2012, the Chamber of Commerce will send out an e-survey. This short questionnaire consisting of under 10 questions will help us focus even more on how our organization can help our businesses, can formulate programs or services that you want from a Chamber, and start to obtain feedback on issues such as Big Boxes and federal or state programs that affect our community or your business. We hope you will take a few minutes to give us this feedback. We are working hard as a Chamber to provide services that are important to you, and to give you value for your dollar invested, and guidelines we can incorporate into our five-year strategic planning process.

We hope to have the results of the survey by the annual meeting. We appreciate your time and encourage you to fill out the online survey so we can become an even better organization and provide the services you feel are important.

We are really looking forward to 2012, not only for the results of the survey, but also because of the other programs we will be rolling out. While we offered a Tiered Sponsorship Package in 2011, we have revised the program and will offer even more savings and more Chamber benefits in the Tiered Membership Investment Levels to include membership rates, advertising and event benefits. We will also roll out our educational programs for 2012 through our Business Bites Luncheon Series. Of course, we will include the very popular Social Marketing sessions. At the beginning of the year we will also look at some Small Business Health Care Tax Credits and how you might qualify. Is your business PCI compliant? Do you know what that means and that the fines could be severe should you not be compliant? For an hour of your time at one of these luncheons, you could save your company thousands of dollars or make your business even more vibrant or create additional revenue through new marketing techniques. A list of these classes will be coming out at the beginning of the year.

Membership

We want to congratulate April Lugo and her new business and location in town – White Wolf Enterprises with a ribbon cutting on Friday, Dec. 30, at noon. White Wolf is located in the River Center next to Lantern Dancer. April offers intuitive healing sessions, healing through energy, self-help and Chakra-Hypnosis, and the store has an array of wonderful herbs and essential oils. Plan to come out and see her store and congratulate her on basing her business out of Pagosa Springs.

We close the year with two new businesses joining the Chamber this week.

We have Doug Chapin Photography which also includes video production. Doug has experience in the photography and film world through his previous life in the LA film mainstream. He brings this expertise to Pagosa to produce fantastic works of photography and can also gather film to produce a short or long television or online ad for you.

We also welcome Susan McKnight and her low-impact, therapeutic water exercise programs. Susan holds her classes at the Healing Waters facility on Hot Springs Blvd. You can participate in Water Yoga, Tai Chi, Arthritis Ease, Back Rehabilitation, Stretching and much more. If you suffer from chronic pain, high blood pressure, injuries, poor balance, joint disorders or any other debilitating conditions, these classes can help you deal with the pain and improve your overall fitness. Susan has over 30 years experience as an aquatic professional and is a certified swim coach. Your first class is free, just pay for the pool admission. There are also special rates for seniors.

The last group of renewals for the year include The Body Shop Total Fitness with Cindy Houston, The Artists Within, the San Juan Outdoor Club and the Music Boosters.

The Chamber wants to thank the community for their support, input and involvement. We want to continue to build a strong business environment and affect positive change in our community. We look forward to interacting with our businesses much more in 2012. We know that, in order to run your businesses, you lead busy lives. We hope you take some time to get involved with some aspect of the Chamber and take advantage of all the new and improved amenities we are offering. Thank you Pagosa, and here’s to an even bigger and better year in 2012.

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