After losing a number of members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kalispell Chamber of Commerce officials decided to discontinue parade sponsorship for the foreseeable future.
“We exist on membership dues and we lost some (members),” Kalispell Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Lorraine Clarno said. “We lost volunteers and we lost financial resources. We had to look at the demands and priorities of our memberships, and when it came down to it … we need to redirect those resources.”
Each parade costs anywhere from $2,100 to $4,000, and with more than 100 hours of labor dedicated by staff and volunteers, Clarno says the Chamber lacked the needed resources to continue with sponsorship.
“It was purely a business decision,” Clarno said.
But Clarno says there are two other organizations interested in taking over parade sponsorship, meaning the parades the chamber has historically sponsored will likely continue. Those parades include St. Paddy’s Day, 4th of July, Northwest Montana Fair and Christmas.
“We think we’re moving on in a very different and new business environment,” Clarno said. “Our members are asking about other things like workforce initiatives, education initiatives, advocacy and affordable housing. Kalispell is changing and our organization has to change, and we just have to make sure we’re remaining relevant to our future and keep jobs growing.”
In April, the chamber will host an Opportunity Fair, which will entail a month-long virtual job fair, including positions in manufacturing and trades, hospitality and tourism, healthcare and other industries.
Chamber officials are also working to host in-person events this spring.
“We’re looking for partners to help with large gatherings in a safe environment outside,” Clarno said. “We’re planning for a re-entry into the new year.”
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