Community connections: Helping business is the chamber’s calling card

Welcome to the Addison County Chamber of Commerce’s new monthly update. Whether or not you or your employer is a member, we hope you’ll find the information here relevant, interesting and informative.
What does a Chamber of Commerce do?
According to the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, “a chamber of commerce is an organization of businesses seeking to further their collective interests, while advancing their community, region, state or nation.” There are roughly 3,000 chambers of commerce in the U.S. with at least one full-time staff person and thousands more established as strictly volunteer entities. In Vermont there are approximately 30 chambers, most with at least one paid staff person, but a handful are run by volunteers.
In Addison County, we have three paid staffers (Sue Hoxie, Maria Benoit and Pam Freilich) and we represent about 425 businesses and individuals — from a chamber industry perspective this is a large number of members based on our population. Approximately 35 percent of our members are tourism related, while the other 65 percent represent business ranging from your accountant to window washing.
Put into more practical terms, these are a few of the things the Addison County Chamber does for our community:
• Voice of business — we provide our member businesses with legislative updates; collaborate with other county business entities such as downtown business groups, ACEDC (Addison County Economic Development Corp.) and ACRPC (Addison County Regional Planning Commission); advocate on members’ behalf on issues such as the Middlebury railroad bridges project, Vermont Gas pipeline and Middlebury airport expansion.
• Networking and business relationship building — we offer members and guests opportunities to network with one another at events such as monthly after hours business mixers.
• Tourism promotion — we promote Addison County as a destination (more on that later).
• Community resource — the Visitors’ Center isn’t just for visitors. We get many inquiries from area residents on where to find something, referrals for what business can help with a certain problem. And, we get some pretty off-the-wall questions too. We may not know the answer right away, but we’ll find it. Stop in or give us a call for help answering your questions.
In a nutshell our goal is to make things better for business.
Run and Ride Bring Visitors
The chamber, with the support of dedicated committee members, organizes two large athletic events. The ninth edition of the Middlebury Maple Run (a half marathon road race) was held May 1, and the third edition of the Vermont Gran Fondo (a very challenging bike ride) was held June 4. Both events are developing into “must-dos” for their respective athletes.
Why does the Addison County Chamber organize these events? A few reasons. Sports event management is a particular strength and passion of the chamber’s president, Sue Hoxie. She was organizing races long before she joined the chamber in 2008. These events attract people from “away” who travel, stay at our hotels, dine in our restaurants, even fill their gas tanks.
What kind of economic impact do they create? We surveyed the Gran Fondo riders afterward and some of the stats are below. Both events have budgets of between $30,000 and $40,000. The chamber makes an effort to use local vendors wherever possible for the services and supplies we need to produce each event.
We asked the following questions:
• How many people did you travel with? Twenty-two percent of riders traveled with four or more companions.
• How much did you spend here as part of participating in the ride? Forty-four percent spent $200-$400; 15 percent spent over $400.
• Did you spend a night in a hotel room? Fifty-three percent said yes.
Here’s a look at both events by the numbers:
Middlebury Maple Run
Registration Finishers
Individual 675 516
Relay teams 182 77
Total 857 670
(Difference reflects no-shows and those who did not finish)
Gender: male, 33 percent; female, 66 percent
Home state: Vermont, 62 percent; out of state, 38 percent
Vermont Gran Fondo
The Gran Fondo had 290 registrants, 263 starters and 250 finishers (estimated). This represents a 31 percent increase in registration over 2015. For each race, the breakdown was as follows:
Gran (104 miles): 224, or 77 percent;
Medio (64 miles): 41, or 14 percent;
Piccolo (43 miles): 25, or 9 percent;
Gender: male, 88 percent; female, 12 percent.
Home state: Vermont, 19 percent; Canada, 16 percent; out of state (U.S.), 65 percent (including one registrant from the Bahamas!).
Kudos from Members
Tone Bratland, owner of High Winds Lodge & Cottages in Salisbury, wrote us to say: “A J. Dunn from NY contacted me a few weeks back telling me that he was referred by the Chamber. I wanted to thank you for the referral…They are a film crew filming a small production called ‘A Vermont House’ and will be staying with me (for several weeks) occupying all the cottages!”
Did you know?
That the Addison County Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1969? Yup, we’ve been serving the community for 40-plus years.
Chamber Stumped
(Pun intended.) We had a recent inquiry that we’re struggling to answer:
I have been doing research on the sites national Christmas trees were cut from. It appears there were a few trees cut in Middlebury — one being in 1923 for Calvin Coolidge. I haven’t had any luck getting the actual locations through the National Park Service and hoping someone from the chamber can assist. The National Park Service stated that there was one cut more recently and I think there was another cut in 1960s. Any ideas how I can get the actual locations/GPS coordinates?
Can you help? 

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