Chamber begins ‘100 Visits in 100 Days’ initiative

Published 1:22 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Efforts are underway through the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce to visit 100 chamber businesses in 100 days in an effort to strengthen community ties and foster business growth.

The chamber on Thursday announced it had started a “100 Visits in 100 Days” initiative a few weeks prior, coinciding with the start of the organization’s new membership enhancement specialist, Jean Eaton. The visits will be complete before the organization’s annual meeting in October.

Jean Eaton

Chamber Executive Director Shari Sprague said she and Eaton had worked together for several efforts, including the Age Friendly and Dementia Friendly Freeborn County and the Freeborn County Relay for Life.

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“She’s so personal and knows so many people,” Sprague said.

“As we continue to grow and evolve, it is crucial that we have a dedicated professional who can focus solely on enhancing our members’ experiences and addressing their evolving needs,” she added. “Jean’s expertise and passion for community development make them the perfect fit for this role, and we are excited about the positive impact they will undoubtedly bring to our organization.”

A press release stated Eaton has a wealth of experience in cultivating strong relationships and promoting member-centric solutions, and is “poised to revolutionize the way the chamber engages with its valued members.”

Sprague said so far she and Eaton had completed 12 visits, starting with some of the chamber businesses outside of Albert Lea, such as Hollandale Christian School, Geneva Bar & Grill, North American Mat, Dras Cases and 10,000 Custom Designs.

Too often, she said, people don’t realize what happens at many of the businesses. She gave an example of when they went to North American Mat in Hollandale and discovered that the business has a contract with Hobby Lobby to provide all of their mats.

The women can find out not only what a business does but also out who is needing employees and also fill them in on committees within the chamber and encourage them to get involved.

The objectives of the 100 Visits in 100 Days Initiative include strengthening bonds with members, uncovering opportunities, promoting visibility and advocating for members, according to the release.

Shari Sprague

While on the visits, Sprague and Eaton plan to listen to each business’s aspirations, challenges and insights, and hopefully nurture an environment of collaboration and camaraderie.

They hope that as they do this, they can identify opportunities for growth, development and innovation with each business and offer tailored support and resources.

They plan to showcase the member businesses’ products, services and contributions to the local economy and in turn increase their visibility within the community. Lastly, they hope they will be empowered to advocate on the businesses’ behalf and champion their interests.

“Engaging with our members in their own environments allows us to truly understand their unique circumstances and how we can best support their growth,” Eaton said. “The ‘100 Visits in 100 Days’ campaign demonstrates our dedication to member-centricity and reinforces our commitment to the success of every business within our community.”

There are presently almost 350 chamber businesses.

Sprague said she looks forward to sharing more about what they learn through the initiative during the annual meeting.