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Our View: Cortez Chamber example of 2 + 2 = 5

There’s plenty to like about the United States, and one is the number and diversity of small businesses new and longer-lived that allow those with imagination, take-charge instincts and grit to lead and profit from something of their own making. But oftentimes, that’s not an easy road.

Enter local chambers of commerce. Chambers are membership-driven, and set their activities and programs appropriately: workshops about local and national retail, and professional issues; cultivating business partnerships; sharing best practices; adding marketing publicity and celebrating successes. They are true examples of two plus two equals five.

Shared efforts increase the likelihood of business success, and a strong business environment adds to a community’s appeal. Think jobs and tax revenue as locally spent – and earned – revenue circulates locally.

Cortez’ Chamber, with recently hired Executive Director Aretta Begay, is coming out of its doldrums. Following uncertainties that surrounded the virus that hit businesses and community events hard, Begay is bringing a broad diverse background in conservation, cultural arts, restaurant and food service, and tribal government, along with a knowledge of the Four Corners. She has a degree in environmental policy from Fort Lewis College. And, she has the benefit of a new governing board eager to regrow the Chamber.

Chamber activities are numerous. The challenge is to identify what local businesses need and how to deliver them, all from reaching out to existing and potential members, exploring beneficial partnerships and listening to the community.

So far in Cortez, there is a desire for workforce training, support for entrepreneurs and the return of community events that – because of their scale – put buyers together with sellers. That two plus two equals five. Expect more as member and board conversations continue, and community members – many without businesses but who appreciate the importance of the business sector – make suggestions.

The City of Cortez is showing that it values the Chamber and is onboard in providing support. We expect the county will, too. Economic organizations with a regional reach, the Southwest Business Development Center and Region 9, are also engaged and likely will expand their connections.

The Chamber is located at 20 West Main St., in the former J.C. Penny building and, prior to that, the post office. Board meetings, which welcome public comment, are the third Tuesday. For activity schedules, go to www.cortezchamber.com.

Stop in and meet Begay, and combine your suggestions with a promise to help. Chamber goals, in three months, six and 12, should be significant membership increases and at least a few needed activities. Help make that happen.