September was a wild ride for the Interstate 94 West Chamber of Commerce, which serves many of the communities within the North Wright County Today coverage area, and beyond.
Shortly after the annual golf tournament last summer, former President Rhonda Baack resigned, creating a new opportunity for chamber leadership. In stepped Donna “DJ” Hartley, who has a myriad of marketing and advertising accomplishments in her background, to lead the organization.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to work with some really great people,” Hartley said. “It sounds cliche, but these are people I’ve known from my work in the area a while back. This chamber has a very good membership base with people who are really active and care about the community.”
One of the challenges – for anyone who leads a large chamber like I-94 West – is making all areas feel included. Since this particular chamber ranges from as far west as Otsego to as far southeast as Corcoran and Medina, Hartley and office manager Sara Biren have their hands full.
“It’s a challenge. One of the things we’d like to bring back are the events targeted for each region or community. So we’re going to have breakfasts at the Legacy in St. Michael. And we’ll do the Medina Club down at the Medina Ballroom. There has to be something close to you, otherwise you’re in your car half the day and it takes away from the fun of it.”
Hartley dove in last month with the Chamber Dinner and Silent Auction, one of the firm’s biggest fundraisers of the year. The night consisted of networking, fundraising and recognition for Ambassador of the Year Sheila Zachman (CRS Solutions) of Albertville and Nate Cotter of St. Cloud (Apollo Insurance).
“We looked long and hard for someone who really could take our chamber to the next level,” said Cabela’s manager Kriss Mills. “We felt Donna was that person. DJ has a lot of drive. She’s very focused. And she fits into the type of personality we need here to grow.”
Here’s a look at the list of activities set to roll out this October:
– Fall Coat Drive at Cabela’s, Rogers: bring a new or used coat, winter accessory or monetary gift. Cabela’s will provide treats and refreshments. Runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 17 at the store;
– Women’s Leadership Forum, Rogers (main office); from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Oct. 22 learn from women at all stages of their careers. This is a female networking opportunity and one of the first efforts of its kind for the chamber;
– “Road’s Open” Celebration, Rogers – Help celebrate from 5 to 8 p.m. with Green Planet and other shops that have been hampered by the County Road 144/Highway 101 construction in Rogers – impacting commuters from STMA, Rogers, Otsego and beyond. Green Planet will host (14186 Northdale Blvd.) with free massages, giveaways and refreshments;
– Engel Haus Ribbon Cutting and Celebrations, Albertville – Ambassadors and other chamber reps will be on hand to celebrate the new senior housing community from 1 to 4 p.m. at the new Engel Haus, operated by Guardian Angels.