What Is A Chamber of Commerce or Elma Washington Chamber?
It's amazing how many folks believe the Elma Chamber of Commerce is owned by the City of Elma Washington. So let's clear that up first.
A chamber of commerce, like the Elma WA Chamber of Commerce, is a great hub for networking with other businesses.
A chamber of commerce makes for good relationships inside & outside of a community.
Chambers can also act as allies to municipalities (city government) to help obtain things like grants for project developments (improving streets, sidewalks, etc).
It's a voluntary collection of business members, but it is not limited to business, and it is not a municipality such as city, county, or state. Not at all.
The drive and creativity within a chamber of commerce protrudes outward to folks interested enough in a community to move, tour visit, or even expand companies.
It all equals out to be about business and folks helping economics of the community.
We joined the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce around 1998 to do just that.
Since I loved old structures and the stories behind them, we had already collected some history of Elma Washington along with old historical pictures of Elma Washington, and memorabilia.
It took some doing but eventually, as you will see, we came up with three volumes of the Elma Washington Visitor Guide complete with local advertisers.
The Elma Timberland Library graciously filed them as each volume came available.
So, you may have noticed that chocolate candy making isn't all we do in Elma Washington. You might say I love East Grays Harbor County.
Elma where my family settled, moving to Elma on March 20, 1883. Working together with other settlers discovering new trails, building roads, and more.
There's not a lot going on in the way of pioneering the countryside these days. But helping improve the economics of the community is a kind way of doing my part to help others.
Besides, never know who might want a crash course in good old fashion chocolate candy making.
Still, I think the thing that is noticed the most by the community of Elma Washington, is the annual festivals and what they deliver. It always seems to bring entire families together to have fun; alongside their neighbors, (we could use more of that these days).
Each year we would have a booth outside our door during festival time. We'd make different types of chocolate candies and flowers at the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce Outlaw Days Festival. A festival can be a lot of work, but meeting new people; watching them have fun...
...is like making chocolate candy. It's worth the effort, and always great especially during festival time.
Early on, we discovered Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce had very little information for folks visiting the area. Good thing we have chocolate candy made up.
Not only that, the location of the chamber office would follow the president (usually a business owner/manager).
This meant that if there were a newly appointed president (usually each year); the chamber office would also become one of his or her obligations to make a new home for the office.
When asked by a visitor where the chamber office was located..., we couldn't tell them!
As business owners and members of Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce, shouldn't we know these things?
Remember, a chamber of commerce is about business, so at the very least, you should know where to begin networking.
It didn't take us long to find it, but it certainly made us wonder if visitors and tourists coming to visit the Elma Washington Chamber would know where to look.
Just because we make chocolate and flowers, doesn't mean we can't help others find their way around Elma Washington.
We made a request to the board of directors, and early in 1999, we began hosting the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce office.
Back then, chamber volunteers were so few, the board had adopted a "you think it, you do it" sort of way to get things done. Eager to "pay it forward" we began to help the community.
But there was almost nothing to go on. Just a few out dated festival buttons waiting for a collector, and a hand full of old brochures and small bits of Elma Washington information.
So, what do we tell folks? Children from schools all over want to write about the history of Elma Washington in their book reports..., visitors want to know where the good fishing holes are at..., Grays Harbor County Fairground, camping, hiking, biking, and...
...we have work to do!
We began collecting more information, pictures, and just about everything, we could on Elma Washington Chamber and East Grays Harbor County.
As time went by, I would mail out a lot of paper in one envelope, for one request.
I decided to put together a simple book to tell some history of Elma Washington, show some old pictures of Elma, and information on the East Grays Harbor area.
Alas, we found a printing company that would print the book as a magazine. It took a lot of formatting on what I thought was just a little information about Elma Washington.
The first volume came out and looked fantastic! Almost as good as a box of chocolates and bouquet of flowers...
By the next addition, I had updated it to include some of the things that didn't make the first round.
For whatever reason, the printing company decided they were done with our three-year contract. Everything was submitted for a draft copy of Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Guide. It is customary to get a chance to proof read and edit the errors.
We soon received our second edition of magazines..., all printed, done, no editing..., nothing.
The book was incomplete, attached to a little letter stating how sorry they were that they could not fulfill their end of the contract.
The front cover was a photograph of "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" out of respect for The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
This particular photo of a mural on the exterior wall of the old American Legion Building (one of many painted murals in Elma Washington).
The building eventually sold, and the mural of "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" was taken down.
The new owner gave the Mural to me when I asked to purchase it!
I made some repairs and asked the City of Elma Council to put in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial erected by the Boy Scouts of America, Troop #14.
They were glad to agree but to this day in 2013, it is still in the city shop collecting dust.
The magazine came abruptly with the front cover a gray scale finish. It should've been in color!
I was devastated! All that work on the history of Elma & Elma Washington Chamber!
Now I have a hankering to make a batch of chocolate truffles..., with rum...
As I looked at this tiny little issue I was facing, I found it to be nothing compared to what our nation was about to face...
...that the nation would soon, forever be changed..., just a few short months later..., September 11, 2001.
The black and white front cover of "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" was as colorless as the whole event of 9/11, or any war for that matter.
A glazed over year, like a hypnotized feeling of helplessness, shattered the thought of wanting to do anymore.
"Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery."
Like everyone then (probably even now), I just wanted things to get back to the way it was before. Besides, we're in business and sitting on our hands is not our style.
I worked diligently to get the third volume of the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce Visitor information Guide completed. The Elma School District #68 agreed to print the new edition at cost.
The Elma School District did a great job printing and I felt good knowing it helped support and benefit the community once again.
I wanted this volume to have everything. Anything that anyone has ever asked for..., parks and recreation, history of Elma Washington, Census (2000) with demographics, historical pictures of Elma Washington, and more...The last edition (2005) of the Elma Washington Visitor Guide is here (Click to view the PDF)
Everything went as planned and things were looking up. In 2005, I ran for Vice President of the chamber. We had a blast working to find new ways to bring people and business to Elma Washington.
Late in the year, the current President at the time was pulled away. So, I finished the details of the festival and close out the year just as the president would do.
Deciding to run for President in 2007, I was able to continue to work with the City of Elma. They allowed several street closures for a huge street festival that summer.
Normally there is a parade with vendors placed onto a side street. This time though, the Outlaw Days Festival would be the biggest thing since the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce Slug Festival back in 1983 (remember that?), and the Wild Blackberry Festival in the early-mid 1990's.
Okay, a lot of work later, we had the final product; fire fighter's bucket brigade, live outlaw shoot out on Main Street at high noon..., and a mess of other stuff. I just loved it.
I liked the shoot out at high noon. It just wouldn't be "outlaw days" without a good shoot out on Main Street. The feature entertainer was "Ted Vigil - John Denver Tribute Artist" who is absolutely great at what he does. Ted Vigil is a gracious and talented person.
It was a lot of fun working with everyone. But, it didn't come without taxing me in a big way, so I decided to take a much-needed break, away from the front lines. During 2008, I answered phones, updated the chamber website, and whatever was asked of me..., but stayed in the background.
Reaching out to help our community can be like picking a thorny rose though. It's a beautiful, flowery thought..., but you may want to put on your gloves.
When 2009 arrived, I was refreshed and ready to rally with the others..., and then I found the chamber phone disconnected along with the Internet's connection.., the calls for explanation..., never returned.
So, my company and I were just unplugged from the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce..., ten years of free service..., and that's it.
"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult"
That's okay! This is me, "unplugged" on Elma Washington..., now and then. There's actually more that can be done now for my community, by building this website. I can still help others..., and, who knows, maybe I can show you how to get paid doing what you love to do!
Still, I always felt like I was just getting started, and it would get much greater as we went. This is one of the reasons why festivals change in small communities. Burnout is another reason.
For the most part, taking me out of a ten-year stretch with the Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce frees up time for my wife, children, and family..., and this chocolate candy-making website!
Building a website always seemed too hard to make. I soon found the "Action Guide" takes you through a ten-day process and will teach you how to build a profitable website, at your own pace, doing whatever it is that you love to do. Have a look..., explore!
There are helpful forums with hundreds of successful website owners willing to help you throughout the process..., they do it for free..., happily!
As for the chamber of commerce, I hold no grudges..., a bit of disappointment, perhaps. Still, I have a lot of fun helping the community & visitors, and have a lot to be thankful for in this community.
There are a lot of folks from all over the world who still stop by each year wanting to know what is happening at the Elma Washington Chamber.
They are loyal to our helpfulness even if they are simply looking for old pictures of Elma Washington.
Because of that, I renewed my membership and joined the Grays Harbor Tourism Board.
I continue to get Elma Washington Chamber of Commerce information and old photos of Elma Washington & the East Grays Harbor County area. You can bet I will continue to help folks that come to this community.
There are some more of the old photos in the 2005 version of the PDF book you can view and read for free. As time goes by, I will post more.
I love helping people, so I hope you enjoy your stay!
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