“There’s a lot of great reasons to live here and visit,” Allison Whalen said about Harmony. Whalen is the new director of the Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce and is excited about her new job, which she began on October 3.
Before accepting her position as Chamber director in Harmony, Whalen worked at F&M Community Bank in Preston for 14 years. “I loved working at the bank,” she explained. “They were really good to me. I learned a lot there.” She credits that job with preparing her to take on her new one. She even got the experience of serving on the Preston Chamber of Commerce’s board on behalf of the bank. When Whalen saw the advertisement for the Harmony Chamber director, she knew it was time to make a career change. “The timing of the position was just right for me,” she said.
Whalen was born and raised in Harmony. After leaving for college, she didn’t come back right away, moving around in Minnesota and to Iowa and even Idaho for a time. About 15 years ago, she moved back to Harmony.
“It’s the job I never knew I wanted,” Whalen commented. She never envisioned herself ending up as a Chamber director, but she’s excited for the opportunity. “My dad was a small business owner in Harmony. My family owned Niagara Cave for many years,” she said, explaining that he taught her all about customer service. “I grew up in that realm of tourism and small business, and I think I have an inherent understanding of it. That’s just something I grew up knowing how to do.” Growing up in Harmony in the small business world gave her a love and passion for the town that she brings with her to the Chamber. It’s also helpful because she’s already familiar with so many of the people. “I have people that I’ve known since childhood and they know me,” she said. “That definitely makes it a lot easier.” But Whalen is also very appreciative of of the “transplants” to Harmony. “We have great people who have moved into this community who love it and want to see it succeed. These people bring a new perspective which is very valuable.”
Whalen has been enjoying getting to know the board of directors for the Harmony Chamber of Commerce as well as the many Chamber members. During her first week on the job, the Chamber held a Meet the Director event, but Whalen wants to go above and beyond that. Her goal is to go around to businesses to meet each and every Chamber member during her first 90 days as Director and greet them face to face. “I do think that’s important,” she said. “I’m here for them. My door is open.” She would like to be able to offer some educational opportunities and socializing events for the Chamber members in the near future. “We have great support and I think we can do those things,” she explained. She wants to keep things fresh, vibrant and relevant as the Chamber moves forward.
Whalen is grateful for the space that the Chamber utilizes at the Harmony Visitor’s Center, both for Chamber events and for public use. “I want it to be a welcoming place for residents and visitors alike. I’m thankful to have this facility thanks to the City of Harmony. They maintain it for us and they do a great job,” she said.
There’s a lot on Whalen’s Chamber calendar such as Haunted Harmony, Small Business Saturday, Breakfast with Santa, the tree lighting ceremony, and more. “I’m jumping right into the end of the year activities,” she laughed. She feels ready though and is grateful for the work that the previous Chamber director had already done to prepare for the events.
I’m excited to embrace the opportunities that we have here in Harmony. I feel like we have so much to offer and we have such great businesses,” Whalen said. “There’s a lot of great reasons to live here and visit here.”