Cook County Chamber of Commerce to meet July 10

The new Cook County Chamber of Commerce is “open for business in more ways than one,” Jim Boyd, interim Chamber executive director, reports.
The countywide Chamber, successor to the Grand Marais Area Chamber of Commerce, will focus on being an effective voice for all Cook County businesses, Boyd said. Its emphasis will be on promoting economic development in Cook County and will not overlap with other groups' responsibilities. The community events previously sponsored by the Grand Marais Chamber will be spun off to the Cook County Visitors Bureau.
“Our main challenge now is building confidence: Convincing businesses from all sectors and all parts of the county that we are truly, inclusively out to support all of them, and proving that we will be an active, aggressive force for positive economic change, not just civic window dressing. Cook County business folk want to know that we truly have their interests at heart and that they will get good return for their investment in the Chamber.”
The new Chamber is still finishing its organizational work but hopes soon to move actively into focusing on important economic development issues, Boyd said. He said it will work to bring us together with other state or regional agencies for grants and program support in areas that include additional affordable housing. It also will look for innovative “out of the box” approaches to marketing our community.  It will play primary or supportive roles in promoting use of broadband, further development of the county's arts and crafts economy, efforts to provide comprehensive support for entrepreneurs, investigation of promising avenues for economic diversification, and others.
“Our ability to take on this compelling work ultimately depends on how many county business leaders and community-spirited individuals find merit in our mission and join with us. Right now, we have about 50 members, but to undertake a full program of business advocacy and economic problem-solving we require many more,” he said.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Chamber and wanting more information can contact Boyd at 218-387-2466 or email  The next meeting is July 10 at 2:30 p.m. at Cook County Higher Education – North Shore Campus. All Chamber members are invited to attend.
A first regular Chamber board meeting recently brought election of a board of directors and an initial slate of officers. Elected to the board were: Howard Hedstrom of Hedstrom Lumber; Jennifer Stoltz of Cook County Whole Foods Co-Op, Dan Anderson of Minnesota Power, Bill Hansen of Sawbill Outfitters, Frank Vecchio of Grand Portage Lodge & Casino, Stacey Hawkins of World's Best Donuts, Charles Skinner of Lutsen Mountains, Bruce Kerfoot of Gunflint Lodge, Dennis Rysdahl of Bluefin Bay, Jan Sivertson of Sivertson Gallery and Hal Greenwood. Charles Skinner was elected chair; Bruce Kerfoot, vice chair; Stacey Hawkins, secretary, and Bill Hansen, treasurer.