CRESWELL – Raina Napper, president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Board, told members in a Thursday, April 2, email that its office was closed, effective immediately, and that administrator Don Amberg had been laid off.
The Chamber’s board has weathered a tumultuous year that included resignations, funding concerns, and a challenging year-end review during a City Council workshop session in March. Help is on the way: “Petitions of acceptance” for three new board members have been sent to Chamber members, and should be approved later this month, Napper said.
“With the uncertain times and length of these orders, I don’t foresee the Chamber able to complete any fundraising in the near future,” Napper said. “Sadly, there is not a lot of tourism happening.”
For that reason, she stated in the email, she closed the office and laid off Amberg, stressing both moves are temporary.
“This is a change to ensure the continued long-term success of our chamber,” Napper said.
The board already was facing financial challenges as the Transient Room Tax (TRT) funds it relies upon have diminished with the closure of the Super 8. During the March work session, the Council said it would schedule an April 13 follow-up to discuss use of TRT money and how the Chamber and City could collaborate and communicate more effectively around tourism initiatives.
Napper said the board continues to look at potential dates and locations for a rescheduled annual awards banquet. Canceling the banquet is also under consideration, as public health regulations in the next few months are uncertain, she said.
The Chamber is continuing with its public voting campaign for honors such as Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and the high school Jr. Citizen scholarships.
Napper said the board is contemplating difficult issues.
“We usually see an influx of thousands of people to our tiny community,” she said referring to the Fourth of July Celebration, a region-wide extravaganza with a pancake breakfast, parade, vendors in Holt park, a car show and spectacular fireworks display.
“There are many uncertainties at this time,” she said. In the meantime, the Chamber president encourages residents to support local businesses by buying gift cards and ordering takeout food, and to continue social distancing while also checking in with friends and neighbors.
Note: Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle and a member of the Creswell Chamber of Commerce board of directors.