A group of business owners in Evergreen has established a chamber of commerce for the area, a project that appears to have garnered considerable attention from the community.
Roughly 80 people filled Flathead Electric Cooperative’s community room during the group’s inaugural meeting on Aug. 23. Craig Witte, owner of Perkins restaurant, told the audience that no one really needs to cross the viaduct into Kalispell to get what they need, because Evergreen has it all.
“We were sitting around talking at Rotary and said, ‘You know, Evergreen needs a chamber of commerce,’” Witte said.
TJ Wendt of State Farm Insurance was present during that Rotary conversation, and said Evergreen needs to promote itself as an ideal business location. There are no city taxes, two major highways, the railroad, a fire department, a post office, schools, Glacier Park International Airport and other amenities in the area.
“We’re the 16th largest community in Montana,” Wendt said. “The 16th largest community with no voice, no way to affect what’s happening.”
The chamber would serve as a way for the local businesses to define their own community, he said, acting as a “unified voice for Evergreen.”
Evergreen isn’t an incorporated city, nor does it have a community council. A chamber of commerce could serve as a place for businesses and community members to come with concerns for Flathead County, and, in return, for the county commission to come with its issues, Wendt said.
“Nothing political,” Witte said. “You do what’s good for business and you do what’s good for the community.”
The founding members have already registered the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce with the state Chamber of Commerce, and have hired Bev Ferris as the executive director.
There are already over a dozen businesses that have signed on as chamber members, Witte said, including Glacier Bank, West One Bank, the Evergreen School District and Ray Thompson.
And while the founding group of business owners certainly doesn’t lack enthusiasm for the project, Witte and Wendt said they do need a financial boost to get it off the ground floor.
Audience members were encouraged to sign up as charter members, a $250 fee that would give them the status that they helped start the chamber. Other perks of joining the chamber would include free links from its website, a members’ directory, certificates that businesses can display, and the legitimacy that being a chamber of commerce member carries, Wendt said.
The next steps for the chamber will be to find office space and get its website up and running. The next meeting for chamber members will take place at the Evergreen Fire Department’s community room on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.
For questions, call 406-260-6092 or email [email protected].
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