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Using Events to Drive Income and City-Wide Economic Support

Glasgow, MT


[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, everybody, welcome to another episode of chats with chambers where we get to talk with executive directors, leaders of chambers of commerce and figure out what they’re doing awesome. So we can kind of emulate and we can give them high praise because again, that rising tide helps all ships, especially in the Chamber of Commerce realm. I’d love to welcome my guest today Lisa koskie. She’s the Executive Director of the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce in Montana, Lisa, welcome to chats with chambers.

[Lisa Koski] Thank you for having me.

[Patrick Kirby] One of the fun things about this show is I get to learn about places I’ve never been to nor knew existed. So could you start us off with telling us kind of at a 5000 foot level, who you are, what you do, and a little bit about the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce.

[Lisa Koski]  My name is Lisa Koski, and I have been the executive director since 2009. For the Glasgow chamber. Glasgow is a relatively small community population 3400. It is the county seat of my Valley County. It’s the economic hub for Northeastern Montana. Glasgow was founded as a railroad town back in the 30s and grew, and in the 30s grew with the building of the Fort Peck down in the 1960s, our population doubled with the operation of the Air Force Base 15 miles north of Glasgow. And some a little bit about us in 2018. The Washington Post dubbed us the middle of nowhere. So we’ve kind of taken off with the middle of nowhere and kind of branded ourselves as the middle of nowhere. And people say how did you get dub that middle of nowhere, but um, it’s, um, we’re in northeastern Montana, but it’s 4.5 hours in any direction from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people.

[Patrick Kirby] Fantastic. Yeah. That’s a pretty good description of the middle of nowhere.

[Lisa Koski]  Yes, pretty much. I mean, Walmart, Kmart, any of those. We do have a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut. But so we have the smaller chains. Yeah. But our chamber was established in 1917. So it’s been going a long time. Currently, we roughly have about 235 members. And we are very event driven, which means we have a lot of events throughout the year. In fact, our largest event is coming up next week. So we’re knee deep in it. It’s our 35th anniversary of the Montana Governor’s Cup walleye tournament. It’s held the second weekend of July. So we’re knee deep in that right now.

[Patrick Kirby] No, I love that. That’s, that’s amazing. Alright, so outside of being officially dubbed the middle of nowhere. If I was to go to Google, and if I was to, you know, sort of search Glasgow, what such an interesting fun fact, would I not know about your fair area?

[Lisa Koski] Well, um, this, Montana has three destinations in our area and Fort Peck Lake, which is 17 miles north of us is the third most destined spot in Montana. Why is that? For Peck Lake is the one of the largest Earth manmade dams. We have more shoreline up in this little area than the entire coast of California.

[Patrick Kirby] That’s a fun fact that didn’t know and I am going to tell all of my California friends, that exact thing going forward now I love that. All right. So the business community as a whole. Tell me a little bit about it. Give me kind of a current business situation. What do you got going on

[Lisa Koski]  there? You know, we’re thriving, we’re coming off a drought. Agriculture is our primary behind tourism is our primary primary industry here. We’re a lot of wide open prairie. So there’s a lot of farm ground to farm. But we’re this year we’ve almost doubled what we got for rain last year. So crops are looking beautiful right now and the egg industry is is thriving, which when the egg industry does good, our community as well. So but that and then we have we do have a critical care access hospital in Glasgow and it and we have two planes that have a direct flight to billing. and you can get to Billings in an hour if you are in an accident needed flying out.

[Patrick Kirby] Oh, that’s fantastic. You’ve been around for over 100 years as a Chamber of Commerce. That’s pretty fantastic. And in those 100 years, I’m sure you’ve got a couple of really big wins. And we don’t like bragging a lot. I know, I know, but we’re gonna brag on the show. Tell me something that it’s a big win that you in the Chamber of Commerce and the community as a whole have accomplished together.

[Lisa Koski]  Well, like I said, our biggest events are 35th anniversary, the Montana Governor’s Cup, it was started 35 years ago. When we first started, it was, it’s a 200 team tournament. In the first few years we maxed out, but then slowly down, gas prices went to crap, the fishing went to crap. We have this tournament with his lowest 60 teams. So but in the last six years, we’ve done a lot of changes. We are the only 100% Pay back tournament in the state of Montana. And we give out over $125,000 next weekend, in cash and prizes. And but this event is the largest economic impact to our community. That entire year, it brings about 500 visitors for about two weeks, they’re up here pre fishing, and now they’ve learned to bring their families and so the economic impact, you can’t get a hotel and RV spot, anything that it’s just huge for our community. And we survived and made it happen through COVID when everything else was getting shut down.

[Patrick Kirby] Ban tastic Listen, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and 500 extra people come into your town for a couple of weeks. It’s hard work being an executive director of a Chamber of Commerce. So what sort of challenges to the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce facing right now? How are you overcoming said challenge?

[Lisa Koski]  Well, our biggest like everybody else, our biggest challenges right now in our community, and in the chamber are labor shortage shortages. Our members call us on a daily basis, needing people to work and, you know, before COVID, we were thriving, and people were at work. And then when COVID hit the ones that were close to retiring, quit, or retired early, and we lost that huge drive and workforce. So like I said, right now our chambers are our members are just struggling with workforce.

[Patrick Kirby]Always what’s what’s the game plan, you guys sort of chamber coming up with ideas on how to recruit and retain or sort of adapt, I guess,

[Lisa Koski]  we have been adapting which also, it’s, like I said, you’re always fast paced world to COVID happen. And now everything slowed down. But things picked up now with half the workforce. So we’re adapting that, or by just trying to keep up as best we can. We’re trying to work on some incentive for businesses to offer, we have quite a few businesses offering sign on bonuses. So if you’ve come to go to work at one of those businesses, they’ll give you a $500 sign on bonus for coming to work credit, there’s some stipulations on you got to stay to work for at least 30 days or 60 days, each business is different. But there’s we’re trying to do those sign on bonuses right now just to encourage people to go to work.

[Patrick Kirby] I love that. You’ve been an executive director for a while and I’m sure there’s somebody listening to this podcast that’s looking for a tip or a trick that they can maybe use have their own Chamber of Commerce and say, hey, if it works in Glasgow, it could work here in a place that’s way across the country. Do you have something that works for you that you would love to pass on to another executive who’s looking for a little bit of a tip or trick?

[Lisa Koski]  You know, we are a very rural chamber. Like I said, our community is 3400 people so and we’re pretty proud of we keep fairly constant with our in our numbers of over 200 members every year. But we do keep our membership dues down. Because like I said, we’re an event driven chamber so and we put on nine events throughout the year, ranging from fishing tournaments to golf tournaments to we just got over a longest damn race, which is a 10k a 5k. A one mile across Fort Peck dam we’ve really been, we really focus on we have this beautiful resource right outside our back door. We we use it to its potential.

[Patrick Kirby] I love that. All right, let’s say I’m gonna pick up everything I have this business here. I’m gonna go move to the middle of nowhere. I finally moved to the middle of nowhere, and there’s a Chamber of Commerce. I’d like you to convince me on why I should join the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce.

[Lisa Koski]  Well, our chamber is like I said, we run off of 15 Board of Directors and when I started we only had 12, the Board of Directors, I increased it to 18 because like I said, we are so event driven and we rely on our volunteers. And the chamber is kind of the hub for our community. So if you’re new to town, and you have a new business, it’s a way to get involved. Like I said, we offer all those events. We have people that each there’s a knack for every Thanks. So between golf, fishing, running ice or ice fishing, we have a homecoming festival. And it just gets people involved in the community and you meet a lot of lifelong friends when you join the chamber, like our board of directors has kind of become a family. So, and like I said, it’s a fun job. I mean, I love my job. Don’t get me wrong, there are ups and downs, but it’s never the same thing. I come to work every day not knowing what I’m gonna get done.

[Patrick Kirby] I love it. That’s that’s the best part about a gig, right? You never never bored. And that’s amazing. All right, that’s what I’m packing up. You sold me. I’m in if anybody else wants to be in to how on earth do people get a hold of you? Where do they go to see all the amazing things including the events at the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce?

[Lisa Koski]  Well, we’re physically located at 54147. US Highway two in Glasgow, it’s right on the on the street, the main street, and it’s kitty corner to our Big Valley Event Center. So it’s easy to find. We’ve lived in this building now for we’re going on for years now. So since I’ve been the director, we’ve had three different spots when we finally found our permanent home. And then we can reach us at our we have a website and it’s www dot Glasco chamber that net. And it lists all of our events, how to join it gives you a little bit of history about our community. And then our phone number is 406-228-2222. And the email address is

[Patrick Kirby] We’ll put all of those links in the show notes. As usual. Lisa, thank you so much for for what you do to continue the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, engaging businesses, doing events completely different and all from the comfort of the middle of nowhere. Most importantly, thanks so much for being a guest here on chats with chambers.

[Lisa Koski]  Thank you very much, Patrick.

[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 Or Links in the show notes

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Glasgow is a smaller community and economic hub in NE Montana. They are branded as the “middle of nowhere” because they are 4.5 hours in any direction from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people. The chamber was established in 1917! They are very event driven.  Agriculture and tourism are the primary industries. The ag industry is thriving because they are coming out of a drought. 

They run a walleye tournament that has been around for 35 years. They typically have around 200 teams that participate! The event gives out more than $125,000 in cash and prizes.

Their biggest challenge is workforce. With COVID those close to retirement retired early and so they lost a big part of their workforce. They’re working on incentives and helping businesses with ways to recruit. 

Lisa’s tip is keep your membership dues down. Because they are an event driven organization they pull in their income from that. As a small community of only 3,400 people they have 200 members.

Questions We Asked

  • What is the Glasgow Area Chamber all about? [1:21]
  • What are some wins? [5:14]
  • What are challenges you face? [6:37]
  • What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [8:20]
  • How can you learn more about Glasgow? [9:22]
Glasgow Montana Chamber of Commerce logo

Lisa Koski

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

Glasgow, Montana maintains its roots as a busy agricultural and commerce hub in Northeastern, Montana. This small town has much to offer the traveler and families relocating from another area. Although we are small, we have a diverse history and a growing future. We hope that you will take a few moments and interact with us online. 

The Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture provides business and community support, information, and more. We’re confident you’ll find what you need here, but don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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