Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce to roll out season of new programs

RANGELY I The Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce will launch three new programs in February to acknowledge residents’ community contributions and encourage local spending.

The first, a citizen of the month program, recognizes Rangely-area residents who help others, better the community via volunteerism or otherwise improve residents’ quality of life, chamber director Kristin Steele said in an email last week.
Monthly winners must live in the area, “need not be well known” and “should have a reputation for honesty, integrity and pride in our community,” the email stated.
Starting Monday, nominators may pick up forms available at the chamber’s office in Rangely Town Hall. At the February board meeting, the director and chamber board members will choose a citizen of the month for March.
Nominations must be submitted by the third Wednesday of each month to be considered for the following month’s award. All nominations made but not chosen in a given month will roll over to subsequent months.
Winners will receive a certificate, appear on the chamber Facebook and website pages and be highlighted in the Rio Blanco Herald Times.
“I got the idea from the Golden Spade (yard recognition) award that people really enjoyed,” Steele said. “It’s something small, it doesn’t necessarily bring in new business, but it recognizes people involved in the community. Somebody may not donate a lot of money to businesses, but they may mow their neighbor’s lawn every week. That’s important, too.”
The last two programs, Chamber Bucks and Shop 365, aim to keep more dollars in the town’s economy via the local equivalent of gift cards and community members’ pledges to spend more in Rangely.
“Oftentimes, when someone needs a gift but they aren’t sure what to buy, they go out and buy a gift card,” Steele said. “Gift cards are great, but so often those gift cards are used at places out of town.”
Enter Chamber Bucks, which purchasers buy like gift cards but give for spending at local businesses. Starting next week, the chamber office will offer those bucks in $5, $10 and $20 increments. Recipients can spend the bucks like cash in any of approximately 15 participating chamber-member businesses.
Bucks have no fees or expiration dates and are not redeemable for cash.
“The Rio Blanco chambers used to do it years back,” Steele said. “Meeker does it as well, and (former Meeker Chamber executive director) Katelin Cook said it did keep a lot of money in the community. At Christmas time, a few businesses asked if we did something like this, so we already had an interest in it.”
Finally, Rangely residents can go online or visit the chamber office to sign a Shop 365 Pledge and receive a gift. The pledge asks participants to spend $365 more locally this year than in past years and works via the honor system.
The pledge can be picked up at and returned to the chamber office or printed out (but not currently submitted) online at www.rangelychamber.com.
Steele said that Shop 365 has been done in other, larger communities with links to economy growth in a three- to five-year window.
“Within the first year, I hope we will see a little bit of change,” she said. “I think it’ll take a couple of years to get people on board and spending locally.”