Committed to strength

By: Margaret Dillard – Chamber President

Margaret Dillard

A small group of us who recently changed jobs were discussing how long it takes to get settled in. The opinions varied about the length of time and after further thought, I think it has taken a full three years to wrap my head around the responsibilities of leading this chamber and preparing it for a strong future.

It’s truly mind boggling how many programs, projects and services we participate in or initiate. It’s also difficult to decide exactly which are relevant for local business. Did you know that if you want to take a bus across the country, tickets are purchased here at the Chamber? That alone consumes many Chamber staff hours per week. Is that a service that should live here? This year, one of our goals is to review all programs and services. We’ll continue those that align with our mission and offer value to members and assist others to transition away from using valuable staff and volunteer time.

On the other hand, the board of directors chose to strengthen our efforts in advocacy. The Minnesota Chamber Federation Alliance, of which Fairmont is a participant, offers a strong link to legislative issues. We’re also fortunate to have Representative Gunther and Senator Rosen who are accessible, knowledgeable and connected to the local business climate. This year, our Governmental Affairs Committee will facilitate Business Day at the Capitol April 18th and candidate forums in October. The Agri-business Committee is hoping to bring back the candidate’s BBQ in September.

In March alone, we held the Annual Banquet, two ribbon cuttings, participated in two legislative conference calls, met with legislators in support of technical educational funding, formed and met with the team that guides Leadership Martin County, visited with a dozen businesses, supported City of Fairmont at their community session, represented the Minnesota Pork Masters Golf Outing at Martin County Pork Producers Banquet, participated in the advisory group for STEP employment program … and … there is more that we have done this past month. Again, we need to make sure it is valuable and relevant.

This issue of the Chamber newsletter is a reflection of the environment described above. It’s a potpourri of activities, announcements, seminars, meetings, programs and services. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our members. In these pages, you’ll find a list of those who joined since our last issue and a longer list in the February newsletter. (If you want to find out if a business or individual supports us with their annual investment, visit our Member Directory.) Some of the other things that you will notice is an announcement of Let’s Go Fishing’s plans to launch pontoons and Kinship’s Annual Industrial Rummage Sale, both signaling spring and more sunshine to come. Mark your calendars – the Chamber seeks funding for youth programs, while hosting one of the earliest golf tournaments of the season at Rose Lake Golf Course on Friday, June 1st.

The last thing I want to tell you is that the 2018 Visitor and Relocation Guide arrived in January. It is beautiful and the piece that you will want to get into the hands of those near and far who have an interest in our community. The best part is that it is specifically designed to be of interest to anyone. Three specific sections guide readers to sections, then hashtags and web addresses lead them to one of several websites:,, or for more information and contacts of those who can answer questions.

If you’re interested becoming more involved in community leadership, we have a number of opportunities and are able to offer thoughts about what other organizations might be perfect for your specific talents. I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and always appreciate your feedback and conversations.