[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 https://nonprofitbootcamponline.com
[Patrick Kirby] Well, hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of chats with chambers, we got a great one for you. Again, I love this podcast, where I get to figure out where places are in the United States that I’ve never been to. But now I really kind of want to go there. Today is another great episode of a place you probably don’t know, but you probably should. Rebecca Jones, Executive Director of the Beaverhead chamber in Dillon, Montana, Rebecca, welcome to chat chambers.
[Rebecca Jones] My pleasure. Sure. Glad to be here.
[Patrick Kirby] Very excited to chat with you today. But like a lot of people who are finding us on Stitcher or Spotify or wherever they’re finding this, this podcast, they might not know a lot about what the Beaverhead chamber is where it is. So could you give us kind of a 5000 foot view of where you are, what you do and how the business climate is there?
[Rebecca Jones] Absolutely, yeah, we are situated in the very southwest corner of Montana. We are Beaverhead County, we’re the largest county in Montana. And we’ve got the Continental Divide on the south west and north side of us. So we get we get this like, we also are kind of the banana belt of Montana. Because the weather hits the Continental Divide, it sort of skips out over us and keeps us kind of drier. Usually, we get a little less snow than a lot of places. And we tend to be a little warmer in the winter and a little cooler in the summer. So it’s really kind of a best kept secret at Montana.
[Patrick Kirby] I really liked that. How’s the business climates in Beaverhead chamber?
[Rebecca Jones] Well, we are remote, we’re about two hours from everywhere. So it’s, you know, business climate is tricky here. Building is tricky. We, we want more businesses to come to our area. But boy, it takes a long time to get houses built and things like that, because everything kind of has to be shipped in. So that’s that’s kind of one of the challenges that we kind of have, we have a population of labrum, a little less than 4500 people in the city of Dillon, we’re less than 10,000 people in our entire large county. Remember, our county is 5500 square miles. So we’re we’re the size of Connecticut with a with less than 10,000 people. So. So it’s a little more challenging to build things here. But we’ve got a lot of open spaces better available and buildings that are available. So the business climate are, we have some construction happening downtown, we’ve got our new water mains going in, and we’re very excited. They’re replacing our wood and water mains from the 1800s. So I think we got our, you know, we got our money’s worth out of those. And it’s time to replace them. So we’re doing that. And so construction is never easy. It’s always a challenge. And so we really appreciate folks coming to visit Dylan and checking out our shops, we’ve got an African Oasis shop, we’ve got a an Emporium shop, we’ve got an alpaca shop, and a and a bootmaker. Atomic 79. So we’ve got some really wonderful shops here in Dillon. And we hope people can just park and walk along the sidewalks in a safe way and then visit our shops. So typically, I
[Patrick Kirby] ask guests on the show, what’s the most unique thing about the city in which they live in or the community in which they live in? And I’m not sure I need to ask that question over the fact that you have wooden sewer systems, but I dare I dare ask it again, because there might be something awesome and unique about Dillon, Montana that I didn’t know about, even though again, we just discussed, you’re getting new sewers that were wooden from the 1800s, which is now blowing my mind, and I’m super intrigued about what your next answer is. But what’s awesome and unique about Dylan.
[Rebecca Jones] Well, it is it’s just a unique area. We there’s so many natural resources here. We have, you know, we have two of the largest outlines here. And our talc refining plant is right here. A large percentage of the world’s population or resource of talc comes from our county. We also have, you know, well gold was discovered and Banik which is in our county, and that was the Montana’s first territorial capital. So we’ve got a lot of really great resources here. plus we have the Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest, the Montana’s largest national forest, which takes up a big chunk of our, of our county. So there’s just a lot to do. Our shops are very eclectic. They’re not tshirt, souvenir kind of shops, we’ve got a custom bootmaker atomic 79, we’ve got a custom saddle maker. So you can come and get your own saddle your own boots. And you can also get something an artifact from Africa, which is kind of crazy in Montana. But we’ve got him here in Dillon. It’s just a fabulous place to be.
[Patrick Kirby] I very much love that. All right. So it’s not in our nature to brag a lot about things that are going incredibly well. But we like to do that here on the show. So what has the chamber been involved with in the business climate there that you just want to shout from the rooftops about how, what an amazing job what amazing partnership that you have helped me accomplish?
[Rebecca Jones] Well, I will share with you that we have the Beaverhead treasure hunt. And this is a lovely little glass. It’s a paperweight glass paperweight. And I partnered with the University of Montana Western glass arts program, we made 100 of these, there’s just sort of an abstract piece. It has an imprint of a pine cone in it, that represents our forest of our county, some gold, some Ruby, some blue for the water, some green for the town. So it’s all the resources in our county, and represented in glass. And we’ve hidden all 100 of these all around the county. And folks, find them it’s free, they bring them back to the chamber. And then they get entered into a draft a raffle for $100 and chamber bucks. And those chamber bucks must be spent in our local businesses. So that’s one of the really great community engagement programs at the Chamber did this summer. We did it last summer. It’s called the Beaverhead treasure hunt. It’s out on our websites, and we just invite the public to come to Beaver County and hunt for treasure.
[Patrick Kirby] If you are given the award of the most unique way to engage the community, I think you’d be top three, at least in the conversations that we’ve had. That’s one of the most amazing things. And the best part about that is again, you’ve got this wonderful, huge gigantic county to explore. What a better way to go do that then go send people on not so wild goose chases to go find something very much interesting with you. All right. So besides being very remote in an area where you are two miles away from it, there’s probably a lot of other challenges as an executive director, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and scavenger hunt. No. What is a major challenge that you are facing in in Dillon as part of the the Beaverhead chamber? And how are you trying to overcome that?
[Rebecca Jones] Well, how can these water mains replaced it has taken it’s torn up a lot of our downtown streets, especially in front of our shops and businesses. So one of the things we did last week, we had our Thursdays at the chamber, which is a wonderful event. It’s just a network event. It’s free lunch, you get a hot dog, a bag of chips, a bottle of bottled water bottle, and come and network with your business colleagues, what was said of coming to the chamber to do that we moved into the heart of the construction zone. So we’re there watching these big construction equipment work. While we’re passing out hot dogs and chips and business people we’ve had about 100 people come down and visit the shops and enjoy their hotdogs. And of course, we fed the construction workers to it. So it was just terrific. We partnered with Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan, they were a sponsor for it. And the University of Montana Western food catering did the hot dog for so it was just a really terrific event. And everyone, there was a lot of complaining before that. And everybody felt like we were all coming together on that day. And that was a great, that was a great day, it was a good. I mean, construction is never easy if you’ve ever built a house or remodeled a house, you know. But we keep thinking of how great it’s going to be when it’s all over. So and it shouldn’t be done sometime this summer.
[Patrick Kirby] I love that. Well, it’s nice to also have the perspective of where things are, where they’re going, see it in person rather than reading it somewhere or having some sort of internet blog post no go up face to face do that. I also appreciate your empathy by feeding the construction workers and not just eating in front of them. So kudos to you. And again, I think a lot of our rural Chambers of Commerce are going to be very interested in what you have to say next, which is trying to give a tip or a trick that you have found to be very effective as a chamber leader on what maybe they can take away and they can implement in their own maybe rural areas and say, Hey, I’m thought about that. I haven’t tried that before. But I’d love to Rebecca tip and trick for us.
[Rebecca Jones] Absolutely. You know when I started here in October of 2020, in the middle of COVID. We had 48 members to our entire chamber for our entire county and we’re up to 112 members which is really terrific. And one of the ways we did that was with Facebook A spotlight posts a chamber member spotlight. So I pledged in that first year, every business day of that year, we were going to have a Facebook post of a business that we put out on Facebook. And we did that we’ve gotten so many members. Now I’m having to go on Saturdays and Sundays now, and actually go with, you know, one in the morning and one in the evening, just so that I can rotate through the member list more than once or twice a year. But the chamber member spotlight has really worked to our benefit and helping elevate our businesses. And these are some of these businesses, they may not feel like they need, you know, they may be the only plumber in town or something. And they may not feel like they need a lot of elevation. But boy, it sure is nice for them to feel like they’re supporting the community. They’re supporting the chamber, they’re supporting and giving back to the community. And you know, it has really worked to our benefit. So I’d say a Facebook chamber member spotlight post has gone really, really well for us. And then we also do a new member spotlight. And then we add them in the rotation. So businesses are getting a lot of elevation with the chamber, we’re just trying to make sure everybody knows who’s in the county, and who’s open for business.
[Patrick Kirby] Nothing better than a little bit of extra exposure a little a lot a bit of value for your chamber membership. I love that. All right. So I want to get away from a lot of people, I want to be two hours away from everything. I still want to work remotely. But I want to move to Dillon, Montana, but I don’t know if I want to be a chamber member of Baca. So I’m gonna give you an opportunity to sell me on why I should be a chamber member of the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce. Sell me on it.
[Rebecca Jones] Okay, terrific. Well, we’ve got the Facebook elevation. So I’ll do that within the first week of you receiving your check of being a chamber member. And we’ll get you elevated out on facebook. We’ll also put you posted on our direct chamber directory on our website, which is Beaverhead chamber.org. We also will have you list your business listed on if it’s a hospitality or tourist type of business will have you listed on our visit Dylan and t.com website. So I control both of those websites. And I just try to elevate as many businesses as I can to make our area be as attractive as possible for business. We also have exclusive lunch and learns. Once a month, we have speaker guest speakers. And it’s usually topics that are happening in the area that people want to know more about, just like this water line project. Before it came up, we had a big lunch and learn about it. And a lot of people came because they wanted to know more. They’re reading about it in the paper. They’re seeing it, you know, online with the public meetings, but they want to ask questions. And so a luncheon line provides that forum for them. So there’s just a lot of terrific reasons to be a chamber member, you get my email blast. If I hear bad roads, construction, bad roads in the winter, I’m sending those email blasts out to my chamber members to make sure that they’re everybody’s being communicated to communication is a huge part of everybody moving forward in the same direction. And we feel like if you can be a member of the chamber, you want to be part of that group that’s moving forward in that same direction.
[Patrick Kirby] Alone. I’m sold. I’m moving, you’re going to be a member sign me up for paperwork. I’m in. Rebecca, thank you so much for for what you’re doing especially for timber leadership, how can people get a hold of you if they want to see what’s going on at the Beaverhead chamber? They want to see what’s going on in Dillon, Montana. They might not know how to get a hold yet. How did they do
[Rebecca Jones] sell? Sure, they can simply email me at info at Beaverhead chamber.org. Or they can call me at 406-683-5511 or they can always visit us on the web at Beaverhead chamber.org. Or visit Dylan in t.com.
[Patrick Kirby] I love it. Rebecca, thank you so much for for your leadership. Thanks so much for what you do for the business community. But most of all, thank you so much for being a guest here on chats with chambers. Thank you.
[Closing] Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or to check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofitbootcamponline/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 email@example.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org Links in the show notes
Beaverhead is in the SW corner of MT and is the largest county in MT. It’s harder to get to so building and and growing is more challenging. However, they have a lot of space and area to grow. Their county is around 10,000 in population. They are now replacing their wooden water mane systems from the 1800s! They also supply a lot of talc to the country. Beaverhead National Forest takes up a lot of their county.
The Beaverhead Treasure Hunt is a fun part of their Chamber. They created a glass artifact that represents their industries. They made 100 of them and hid them all over the county. If you find one and bring it to the Chamber offices you get $100 in Chamber Bucks.
A struggle for them is the disruption that the water mane reconstruction is making outside of local businesses. So they created an event right in the middle of the construction to still encourage people to come down to visit the shops. They handed out hot dogs and celebrated the work that’s being done.
They have gone from 48 to over 100 members since 2020. Part of that is the Facebook spotlights that they share. Businesses get featured a couple times a year for more visibility. This has been a great feature that businesses in the area have enjoyed.
Questions We Asked
- What is the Beaverhead Chamber all about? [1:29]
- What are some wins? [5:39]
- What are challenges you face? [7:29]
- What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [9:30]
- How can you learn more about Beaverhead? [11:28]
Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture
The Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture was founded in 1948 to promote business in Beaverhead County. Over the last 74 years, a great deal has changed, but the one constant in all that time is that our focus has remained the same – championing the economic prosperity and quality of life in Beaverhead County.
Our mission: The Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture is committed to the promotion of Beaverhead County through activities that increase awareness of its many diverse businesses and resources.
Learn more at: https://www.beaverheadchamber.org/