Who we are and what we do!
BY: RACHEL WUMKES
A common misconception amongst the general public is that the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Clear Lake are one in the same. This incorrect Chamber and City connection causes a few “eye twitch” moments for us! After Color the Wind, a staff member overheard someone saying, “Larry Day used to run Color the Wind until the City took over.”
This statement is both true and false.
Yes, Larry Day began Color the Wind and ran the event (spectacularly, I might add) for many years. However, it was not taken over by the City, but instead by the Chamber of Commerce.
And so, today we shall learn about the two entities. Who they are. What they do.
The Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization seeking to enhance the economic success of our members. We are not affiliated with any government entity. Instead, we are governed by a board of directors made up of local business leaders. They are the voice of our membership.
Our mission is to be the champion for business success and quality of life, creating a thriving destination and driving community prosperity.
We plan and host a slew of signature events throughout the year. Their purpose is to get people into the community, enjoying the many attractions, restaurants, and retail shops. The name of the game at the Chamber of Commerce is networking. We jump at every opportunity to connect our members. To one another, to new customers, and even to recruit new employees.
Our role is to connect our members with the tools and resources they need to succeed. We do this through advertising opportunities, educational sessions, networking events and other business resources.
The City of Clear Lake operates under a Mayer-Council form of government. This means the Council sets policy. The routine administration of City business is carried out by an appointed City Administrator and the City staff.
I had to dig deep – way back into those Junior High years of Social Studies class – where we learned about what municipalities do and how they work.
Generally, the City is responsible for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts and public works. Our City, however, goes above and beyond when providing residents with amenities.
You may not be aware of this, but the City of Clear Lake works closely with a slew of nonprofit organizations.
- Veteran’s Memorial Golf Club Foundation operates the city-owned golf course.
- Central Gardens of North Iowa leases their site from the City.
- Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake
- Clear Lake Arts Center
- North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation
- Clear Lake Yacht Club & Sailing School
- The North Iowa Cultural Center and Museum which operates the Surf Ballroom
Because both the City of Clear Lake and the Chamber of Commerce do so much for the betterment of our community, I can understand how it may be confusing.
It doesn’t help matters that we often collaborate on projects and events.
“Many times, citizens mistake the Chamber as a ‘quasi-branch’ of the City government,” stated City Administrator, Scott Flory. “While that is incorrect, the Chamber and the City do work in partnership seamlessly, on business development, community advocacy, tourism, economic development, and community growth.”
Chamber President and CEO, Stacy Doughan, agrees with Scott. “Clear Lake benefits the strong partnership between the City and Chamber of Commerce. We are willing to work together to support the local economy. Our collaboration fosters a favorable business environment, attracts new businesses, encourages existing businesses to expand, and ultimately leads to more economic opportunities for the community. Additionally, a strong business community helps create a sense of community pride. Our local businesses and their employees are the ones who contribute to local events and support charitable causes making Clear Lake special.”
Funding is another major difference between the two. The Chamber is primarily fueled by member dues, tourism, and sponsorships. The City, on the other hand, utilizes tax dollars collected from property owners.
Speaking of tax dollars… no, they are not how we have spectacular 4th of July fireworks each year. This is another one of those “eye twitch” comments we hear quite often. In 2014, the IGNITE campaign was launched. Funds raised were put into the “Clear Lake Fireworks Endowment Fund” which is held by the Cerro Gordo County Community Foundation.
Fun fact – this fund is ALWAYS open to donations.
If you love the 4th of July Fireworks and wish to see them around for years to come, just pop on over to https://www.cfneia.org/giving/find-a-fund/695-j and make a donation!
Being a Chamber of Commerce, we know the importance of healthy business relationships. We are beyond thankful for the continuous support from city officials of all our wild endeavors to attract more people to our tourist community.
Having the City and the Chamber on the same page, with the same goal in mind, makes Clear Lake such an incredible place to live, work and play.