When the Harmony Chamber of Commerce met for its annual meeting January 17, a big focus was the work of rebranding the city. After the 20 or so attendees enjoyed a social hour and soups and salads, Allison Whalen, who became the Chamber director in October, reviewed the process so far. Whalen shared the city’s mission statement, “To support, promote, and foster connections within our community,” and asked for clarification from the group on how they envision the support. Chamber members answered that they felt the Chamber should work as a liaison between the community and visitors and the businesses, making the businesses aware of opportunities, and acting as a “catalyst to create fun” and create marketing opportunities to work cooperatively with other businesses.
When asked what they thought of with the word “promote,” the group responded: coming up with ways of bringing other entrepreneurs to Harmony, sharing business Facebook and other social media posts, continuing to bring in interns to work at businesses, and letting businesses looking to relocate to Harmony know what buildings are available and what businesses Harmony needs. Collaborating with surrounding towns on events as well as working with the Trail Towns group was also suggested. The group felt a monthly or biweekly newsletter through email and Facebook could promote upcoming events.
The assembly felt a need to foster deeper connections by becoming more personable with their connections. They saw a need to make sure all groups involved in upcoming meetings are contacted and are part of those meetings. A “cheat sheet” of things to do as well as maps and customized itineraries was suggested so each business can readily advise visitors on what Harmony has to offer. After hours events could be held at local businesses for the Chamber members so others could learn more about each business.
Currently the Chamber is working on the vision statement. Whalen asked for input on this future oriented statement, “What is unique, memorable, and specific to who we are? If we had unlimited resources, what would our community look like?”
The attendees pointed out the giving, friendly, caring community. They mentioned that people can get what they need right in Harmony as well as the livability of Harmony with most businesses accessible for people with disabilities. A unique aspect of Harmony is that there have been generations of trend setters in Harmony. That has resulted in a town that is forward thinking and progressive. Many people are choosing the lifestyle of Harmony, moving back to the area, and living intentionally.
The core values of the town will be used to come up with a new logo and brand identity; marketing will be used cohesively to make everything look intentional and cohesive. The new logo will replace the outdated logo currently in use. Whalen thanked the group for their input, pointing out that the rebranding couldn’t be accomplished until they had a clear picture of the mission and vision of Harmony.
In their business meeting, the Chamber elected three new board members; Jessica Hemenway and Erica Thilges were each elected to a three-year term while Tanny Meyer was elected to a one-year term. Secretary Jan Bigalk was thanked for her nine years of service as she left the board.
The Chamber will be running a fundraiser this year with a golf tournament planned for the first weekend of August. Whalen shared that the hope is to make changes to the Fourth of July celebration to make it an income generator. The Chamber is non-profit; any additional funds will be spent to promote the community more, thus benefiting both the Chamber and the community.
Following the business meeting, the floor was opened for a members forum. A need for appliance repairmen in Harmony was shared; training would possibly be available for someone who’s interested.
The need for affordable housing was pointed out. Solutions suggested were the development of apartments above downtown commercial properties and the possible construction of smaller and tiny homes. The EDA will be increasing the new home rebate form up to $12,000 to up to $20,000. A grant recently received by the EDA could help rehab 15 to 20 homes.
The bike trail is still coming to Harmony, but more money is needed. Originally the trail was projected to cost $1.5 million; the estimate now is around $4 million.
Internships will be available again for 10 to 12 weeks this summer; the interests of the interns is considered when placing them at businesses.
The annual Chamber of Commerce meeting concluded with the members walking away with a clear picture of the mission of the Chamber and the work they plan to do this year to fulfill their mission “to support, promote, and foster connections within our community.”