Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chambers help growth

March 28, 2012

Both Bonner Springs and Basehor are fortunate to be served by Chambers of Commerce. Certainly having a Chamber of Commerce is very important to a community and its future. A progressive and active Chamber of Commerce can be the difference between a growing or dying community.

I will admit that I am a long-time Chamber supporter. In fact, I have been president of the Chambers in Mulvane, Carrollton, Mo., and here in Bonner Springs. I know how hard volunteer businesses work to improve the quality of life for citizens of communities. I think the Basehor Chamber mission statement sums it all up with the statement:”The mission of the Chamber is to improve the business climate and living condition for residents, workers and visitors.” In general, Chambers of an organization of businesses who band together for the common good of the area.

The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber this year is headed by Paul Bloch. He started his term in January replacing outgoing president Paul Bush. The Chamber is best known for its two major celebrations – Tiblow Days in August in Bonner Springs and the Autumnfest in Edwardsville in the fall. These both are major events and require a lot of volunteer hours. Yes, they are great events and showcase the communities and bring a lot of visitors. The events have grown a lot over the years.

One of my favorite celebrations is the National Honor Society annual luncheon. Chamber members individually host Bonner Springs High School NHS members. We pick them up at the school and return them after the luncheon. They are honored with certificates and flowers. It is a great way for business people to get to know outstanding high school seniors.

I must add that there is one event that I miss and it was the annual Easter egg hunt. I hope someday it will return. The Edwardsville Kiwanis Club always provided manpower for the event.

The Chamber works hard to promote business throughout the area. Each June the chamber, in conjunction with the cities, sponsors a business appreciation luncheon. Outstanding businesses are honored and members have a chance to inter-act with neighbors.

There are many other Chamber activities including the annual golf tournament and other smaller events during the year. They conduct member services such as ribbon-cuttings for new businesses and ground-breaking ceremonies.

The local Chamber was started in the late 1970s and I had the honor of serving as president in 1982. More than a decade later, my daughter Angela Skwarlo served as president. While I was president we hired Charlene Biles as executive secretary and she continues in that position today. I certainly am proud of the Chamber and its service to the area.

The Basehor Chamber of Commerce was started in the mid-1980s and has grown to more than 100 members. Blake Waters became president recently, replacing Aladdin Ashkar. The Chamber meets monthly and during the past year alternated times to accommodate members.

One of their major events of the year is the annual meeting and silent auction, which raises funds to help needy families in the Basehor and Linwood areas. In addition, new officers are elected at the annual meeting. In the past they also have conducted a golf tournament.

Personally, I would like to see more interaction between the two Chambers. Years ago, we conducted a joint meeting and I thought it was very beneficial since problems don’t stop at the city limits or county line.

Growth anywhere in the area is beneficial to everyone.

I was surprised to find that the first “chamber of commerce” was started in Marseille, France, in 1599. The oldest Chamber in terms of continuous service is in Glasgow, Scotland, originating in 1783. Daniel Webster started a Chamber of Commerce in Boston in 1825. There had been an earlier Chamber which was started in New York City in 1768, but it later failed. In the early 20th century, Chambers spread throughout the country and were established in smaller towns . Now almost all communities have a chamber or similar organization representing the interest of all citizens.

The residents of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor are fortunate to have outstanding Chambers who give many volunteer hours in bettering the communities.

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