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How the Carbondale Chamber Keeps a 92% Retention Rate

Carbondale, CO


[Intro] Welcome to chats with chambers with your hosts Patrick Kirby and Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each week we connect and learn from executives of chambers of commerce from across the country. These short episodes will share success stories, challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks to inspire you, and provide resources for hitting your organizational goals. From recruiting new and retaining current members to finding new and creative revenue sources. You’ll hear straight from those leading chambers and communities throughout the US. Chats with chambers is proudly brought to you by the Nonprofit bootcamp. Learn more and check out the show notes for episodes at 

[Patrick Kirby] Hey friends, welcome back to another episode of chat chambers. I’m very excited. Again, this is such a great show in which I get to learn about different places throughout the country and different leaders who are chamber executives doing amazing things. We have a great one for you too. Andrea Stewart. She’s the Executive Director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce in Colorado. Andrea, welcome to chatter chambers.

[Andrea Stewart] Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here. Very excited.

[Patrick Kirby] So why don’t we start off the way we start off with all of these, which is kind of give us a 5000 foot view on the chamber itself in Carbondale business, how are things going? You go, all the details?

[Andrea Stewart] Great. So I’ve been with the Carbondale chamber since 2008, and was appointed executive director in 2012. We are home to over 440 businesses. And really, you know, we’re really committed to working together with our businesses and the community to provide leadership education support for our members in order to make Carbondale and the area a more vital place and very dynamic place to live, work and play. So it’s really been amazing over the years, kind of the ebbs and flows if we’ve been through the recession, when I first started back in oh eight, and then making it you know, our way through the pandemic. So, we’ve really seen a lot of business progression and we’re just really excited. I feel our businesses are back and ready to just hit the ground running.

[Patrick Kirby] Outstanding. I love that. Alright, so without googling anything, tell me something really interesting about Carbondale that I would not know or I would be super fascinated by that happens there.

[Andrea Stewart] Sure. So if you’re looking at a Colorado map, we are between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, and what’s really unique to Carbondale, we sit at the base of Mount Cypress, which the elevation is 12,953 feet. And what’s so unique is that mount soapers has two peaks, and they’re within a foot of one another, which is pretty unique. So that’s that’s kind of our, you know, claim to fame.

[Patrick Kirby] I love that. That sounds awesome. All right. Well tell me a little bit about the business environment and Carbondale What do we got going on there? What’s what’s sort of if we had to take a snapshot of business, what are we looking like?

[Andrea Stewart] Yes. So we have a lot of different industries that we represent within our community. Definitely service industry, tourism and hospitality. Also a lot of construction and, you know, professional service as well, whether that be you know, legal financial engineering, we’re pretty unique. Carbondale is a certified Creative District, which is a program through the state of Colorado and we’re just so proud, again, very vibrant, there’s a lot of activity, a lot of happenings in and around the area, and actually the Carbondale chamber, we’re also home to Carbondale tourism. So we have that entity within our umbrella as well. And we really work to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in and around the area. So again, we have a lot of outdoor recreation, gold, metal waters, hiking, fishing, you name it, it’s a good place to be.

[Patrick Kirby] Sounds pretty fantastic to me. Alright, so let’s talk about a big win. I know we don’t like bragging about stuff. Hey, we’re in flyover country, we I know it way too well. But chambers like to do really cool things businesses like to do really cool things. What cool things have you done with your business community that we can brag about a little bit today?

[Andrea Stewart] Yes, thank you. So we have a program that we really kicked off back in 2020 called Love local. And it’s very simple concept. But I think you know, at that time, we kind of needed to like, reduce a lot of thinking and just really get back to basics. So love local was a big program that I’m really proud of. We partnered with a number of entities in our community and just really reminded businesses in the community, like whether they were guests in our community, or live there full time and just love local support local, be nice to one another. It was just such a fun campaign. And we’re really taking that and kind of adding additional layers onto that so we can keep it really vital in the community. And then also, you know, just really impressed with collaborations over the years, whether it be workforce or housing and just watching all of that network really take place and a lot of really cool things are or are happening from those communications and connections

[Patrick Kirby] from that, and I loved I love the love local, a bit, is there a place, um, is the Chamber’s got to be the only place where that can be facilitated in that sort of amount of sort of reminders that were awesome. And that’s what I love most about that. Were there any sort of nuggets that you sort of drew from that campaign are currently dropped in that campaign? Where you look back and you’re like, Wow, this business did this. We didn’t even know about that, or this is this is really something that was intriguing, or people really seem to love this. Was there a sort of a moment where you’re like, we got something here. What was that?

[Andrea Stewart] Yeah. So again, just really simple. But we did these 18 inch vinyl decals that we handed out to all the businesses, Chamber members are not, you know, at that point in time, we’re like, we just, you know, wanted to support all the businesses in our area. And so a lot of businesses still have those decals up. And it’s really cool to have people calling us and saying, Hey, I love this idea, I gotta get behind this. And then to watch again, those collaborations take place of like, Oh, they’re doing it. So I would love to do it. And it’s, you know, purchase something over here and bring your receipt and get your discount over here. And it’s just really cool to watch. Again, as it was so difficult in 2020, and 2021, just watching businesses like really get behind one another. And whether that be like employee share, or delivery services, and just watching it kind of, you know, happen before your eyes, it was a big takeaway. And just to know, we had a really small part of that success was very rewarding.

[Patrick Kirby] Listen, I know, it was might have been small, but there can’t be a giant forest fire without some sort of spark, and that sort of that that thing is probably a bad thing with a lot of trees and forests in nature. But that was a bad analogy. But it still works. Because you’re part of that. And that’s that’s what makes the chambers so invaluable to the business community is that that becomes the, you know, the reason to join. And the reason to be a part of this is that you don’t want this the FOMO of the highest order. I want to be a part of that. That’s great. I love it, you can watch that in real time. And so organically, that’s awesome. Hey, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and puppy dogs and ice cream, I get that. What’s the biggest challenge that you are facing in Carbondale? And kind of how are you overcoming that as chamber?

[Andrea Stewart] Sure. So definitely we’re seeing as we’re seeing across the state, and across the country, is really workforce and housing. And those definitely come, you know, hand in hand. We were seeing that before back in 2019. And then I feel the pandemic just really escalated that. And again, it’s really unique to see before some you know, entities that were like, we’re good, or we don’t need to touch that now. It’s like, oh, my gosh, we’ve got to everybody has to get involved. And so we’re seeing a lot of public private partnerships, some great opportunities, some coalition’s being formed, again, all because we love our community, and we love our businesses and doing what we can to support that. So that’s one, you know, ongoing challenge. But it’s also, you know, an opportunity to really get those networks and partnerships in place.

[Patrick Kirby] Right. I love that. All right, you’ve been a part of the chamber since 2008, and executives in 2012, which means you have an extensive volume of knowledge on all things chamber, is there a tip or a trick that you can give somebody who’s maybe listening to this was was newer, or maybe just looking for a fresh perspective on what’s really working for your chamber, what’s really worked well in the past, and things you can pass along to that next generation of leadership within the chambers nationwide?

[Andrea Stewart] Sure. So my background is communication. And this seems like a very simple answer. But I think what we’re missing in a lot of our day to day, and again, everyone is so busy, and there’s all different things happening. But I think two things that are really important boundaries. And I think the hardest boundary that I have is with myself to not over commit or, you know, it’s okay to say no, even if it’s a passion project that you want to do. But I think listening is so important. And we kind of missed that I think with all the screens and technology and just trying to get through that email list in the day we find with our membership. Again, we have a 92% retention rate. So I feel we have, you know, a lot of support behind us. And just to you know, if a business has a question, or they’re not quite sure about something, I think it’s so important to just pick up the phone or meet them face to face and have that conversation. Just listen. And with that, you know, maybe they’re on the fence about renewing or joining at first but once you can sit down and have that conversation with them, and really, you know, dive into all that we do and the networks that were a part of, you know, next thing you know, they’re signing up for the three year commitment or you’ve just helped them, you know, introduce them to a lead that they’ve been trying to connect with. And I think again, just just listening, and those boundaries are just so important. So those would be my big takeaways.

[Patrick Kirby] I love that and again, as simple as it is to say that it’s super complex and complicated to do so I love that. I appreciate that as a perspective, okay, there’s probably a lot of people We’re looking to see what you guys are doing in Carbondale, but they might not know how to get a hold of you. So is there a place where we can go to find out all the goings ons and experience kind of what you guys are doing? The exciting things you’re you’re accomplishing and just kind of get a sneak preview of what’s going on in Carbondale, Colorado. Where do we go? Yes,

[Andrea Stewart] so our website is We’re very fortunate to have that web address. So please visit And you can also find us on social media. We have Carbondale Chamber of Commerce on Facebook and then on Instagram we are at Carbondale

[Patrick Kirby] even easier, I love that area. Thanks so much for hopping on with us and on Chester chambers. I love getting a perspective on what you are doing and how that can help everybody else and, you know, place the country that might not even know where Carbondale was until they listen to this podcast. Appreciate what you do as a chamber leader for as long as you have been doing it as a chamber leader. Again, it’s one of the reasons why we think that this is just such a it’s a no brainer to join to no brainer to be involved with because you get to be a part of this whole organic, you know, spark of brilliance that these chamber leaders are coming up with. So get memory Hey, if you’re listening this you don’t have a map, you don’t have a membership locally. Go get one, Andrea, thank you so much. We’re gonna put all the links in the show notes so people can kind of click on what the what you were chatting about and kind of how to get a hold of you. Most of all, thanks so much for being a guest here on chats with chambers.

Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofit boot camp backslash podcast. Hey, subscribe, give us a five star review if you liked what you heard and if you are a chamber would like to be a guest on this show. Hey, email us Patrick had do good better Or Sammy at h n e marketing links in the show notes


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Carbondale has more than 340 business that they provide support and education for. They are between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, CO. They are at the base of Mt. Sopris, 12, 953 feet! They have a lot of toursim and hospitality as well as construction and professional services.  The Chamber is also combined with Carbondale Tourism.

Love Local is a program the kicked off in 2020. It reminds businesses and people in the area to shop local and just support each other. It has also allowed some incredible collaborations to happen! They created vinyl decals that they could display at their business.

Workforce and housing are a struggle. They are seeing some coalitions being formed and some other ways that they are showing up to support each other.

Two big tips are setting boundaries, its ok to say no, and listening. They have a 92% retention rate and they attribute that to listening and sharing.  

Questions We Asked

  • What is the Carbondale Chamber all about? [1:13]
  • What are some wins? [3:54]
  • What are challenges you face? [7:08]
  • What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [8:10]
  • How can you learn more about Carbondale? [10:08]
Carbondale, CO chamber logo

Andrea Stewart

Carbondale Chamber of Commerce

We are pleased to welcome you to Carbondale, Colorado.
Take it all in, take it as it comes, take it one step at a time — just remember — we “Take it easy” in Carbondale.
We’re located at the base of majestic Mt. Sopris, resting in a broad valley defined by the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers.

Located 170 miles west of Denver and 30 miles from Aspen in the heart of Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains, the picturesque town of Carbondale was first occupied by the Ute Indians, then by silver prospectors, cattle ranchers, and potato farmers. With a strong arts and music community, the town embraces its mining, ranching, skiing, and resort identities, and has also become an attractive place for sustainable businesses.

Learn more at: 

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