Sunday, September 15, 2019

Chamber shifting management duties

Matthews working both ends of the valley now

A major restructuring of the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce is at hand. Executive director Christi Matthews will be cutting back her hours and looking at long-term strategy, while two others have stepped up to take on day-today operational responsibilities. The change is meant to move the chamber to the next level of growth while at the same time saving some money.



Scott Still was hired this
month as the Crested Butte and
Mt. Crested Butte Visitor Centers
manager. He will oversee the staff,
the facilities and all events associated
with the chamber such as Fat
Tire Bike Week and the Fourth of
Kristen Van Hoesen will start
in the job of chamber operations
manager and member relations
director on December 1. She will
take over most day-to-day responsibilities
and be in charge of
things like Business After Hours
events, the quarterly newsletter
and membership recruitment.
“Christi approached the board
to change the management structure
to diversify the management
responsibilities,” explained chamber
president-elect Richard Bond.
“She will continue to oversee the
chamber and the new managers
but focus on the long-term planning,
the annual business plan
and future strategizing.”
Matthews sees the shift as attempting
to have the best of both
worlds. “This will enable me to
focus more on the big picture
items,” she said. “But not at the
expense of the members and the
chamber. I have been so engaged
and so involved with things like
the Town Council meetings and
the Tourism Association that I
am out of the office more. I want
someone in the office that can respond
to the day-to-day needs of
the members.”
Matthews, whose background
is in hotel management,
has also taken a job as the general
manager of the Holiday Inn
Express in Gunnison. “I feel I can
do both,” she said. “I’ll be working
the same amount of hours as
I was before. I am committed to
this idea and this organization.
This allows me to focus on the issues
that come before the chamber
that need more of a general but
forward-thinking look. It will also
be good to have different perspectives
on the management level.”
With the management adjustments,
Bond said, the payroll
budget would actually decrease
this coming year.
The Chamber of Commerce
currently has about 350 members.
That’s about half the business
community that pays for a
business license to the towns of
Crested Butte and/or Mt. Crested
Butte. A basic yearly membership
costs $245, while a “Visitor Center
Membership” with added benefits
costs $295.
Bond also emphasized that
the Visitor Center portion of
the budget is separate from the
chamber portion of the budget.
The towns essentially supply the
visitor center funds through the
collection of business licenses
and BOLT (Business Occupation
Licensing Tax) tax. For every $100
of BOLT tax collected by the town,
$75 goes to the visitor centers.
“That money from the two towns
is strictly fenced off for operating
the two visitor centers and for
events like Fat Tire Bike Week,”
he said.
Bond said it is the goal of the
board to increase the membership
to about two-thirds of the
business community. “We want
to get to about 500 members and
we think having a new full-time
membership director could increase
the number of businesses
that become chamber members.
She can identify, organize and
deliver an increased membership
Bond did say the chamber is
changing its billing procedures,
which is causing a cash-flow
shortage. In the past, members
were billed annually, based on
when they had initially joined the
organization. Now, the chamber
is hoping to get all membership
revenue in the fall by billing everyone
on September 15.
“I think there may have been
some confusion with the new billing
for some of the businesses,”
he explained. “We are having a bit
of a cash flow, inflow problem.
“We really have to get these
renewals to deal with that situation,”
he continued. “The board is
hitting the streets too in an effort
to collect those fees and make sure
people understand what we are
doing. But we realize some businesses
may be having cash-flow
problems themselves. We also
need that recruitment drive to get
us up to the 500-member level.”
Bond hasn’t heard of any resistance
about the chamber as a
reason for not renewing a membership.
“I have no doubt we’ll
fill the budget gap,” he said and
added that the chamber received
five renewals this past Monday
Overall, Matthews said, it
was time for a change for the
chamber. She said trying to stay
focused on long-term issues while
dealing with all the daily needs of
a chamber was difficult. “Transition
is always tough,” said Matthews,
“but I am confident it will
be better in the long run. It’s good.
It’s all good.”
Bond agreed. “We are confident
this restructuring will work
and it will result in a better experience
for the members,” he said.
“It may give us the chance to do
more educational programs for
the members or hold seminars
on everything from Bookkeeping
101 to Advanced Marketing. The
focus is to do more for our members.”
Bond said Matthews, Stills
and Van Hoesen would all be
given one-year contracts so the
board can evaluate the new management
structure in a year. “This
is a test,” he said. “We haven’t
done something like this before so
we will evaluate in a year. But we
are confident this restructuring
will work and be a benefit to our members."

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