PAXTON — A so-called “wine and chocolate walk” is just one of a number of new events the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce’s new president wants to introduce to bring visitors to Paxton and its downtown business district.
“When I gave my speech at the end of (the chamber’s annual meeting Tuesday), I talked about getting more events that bring people actually into our businesses,” said Alan Meyer, who earlier that night was elected president of the organization’s board of directors. “There are other chambers that do events that kind of bring people into town and put people in their businesses without doing a lot of expensive advertisements.”
One such event is the wine and chocolate walk, which Meyer hopes to introduce this fall.
“Basically, each business would set up either a chocolate sampling or wine sampling (event) that would (be allowed) within the ordinances of the city of Paxton and the state,” Meyer said.
Meyer said his idea is that each participating business downtown would hand out samples of either wine or chocolate snacks to people who buy tickets for the wine and chocolate walk from the chamber. The goal, Meyer said, is that not only will the event bring visitors to the community but also allow them to explore each participating business while there.
Meyer said he hopes businesses will use the event to promote sales and offer raffle prizes to the visitors. They may also ask visitors to vote for them in a People’s Choice award promotion the chamber hopes to sponsor around the same time.
Meyer said he also hopes to increase networking among local businesses in his initial one-year tenure as the chamber’s president. To do so, Meyer said he hopes businesses make an effort to gain a better understanding of the products and services other businesses in town offer, so they can point people in “the right direction” whenever a customer asks.
Meyer said he also hopes to increase the chamber’s usage of social media to help promote not just chamber-sponsored events but any events organized by other community groups.
“We’d like to have more people tell us what events are going on with them, such as the townwide garage sales,” Meyer said. “We’d like to start helping advertise events like that.”
Meyer’s primary goal as the chamber’s president, he said, is to bring as many people as possible into Paxton’s many shops.
“I’d rather see as much business here as we can, versus it going elsewhere,” Meyer said. “We just need to keep up that momentum and really get some benchmark goals instead of just sitting status quo.”
Meyer said he plans to ask chamber members who are not members of the group’s board of directors to help make his goals a reality.
“We’re going to start asking some chamber members to become more involved,” Meyer said.
Officers, directors elected
Meyer, owner of Mom & Pop's Kettle Korn Stop in downtown Paxton, was elected by the chamber’s membership as president during Tuesday’s annual meeting at Engelbrecht Farm in rural Paxton. Meyer replaced Cody Kietzman.
Also elected was Austin Curtis, of Edward Jones Investments, as the board’s vice president.
Other members of the 2019-20 board of directors are Amanda Donaldson, Andy Hudson, Holly Galvin, Karen Abbe, Lori Epps, Neal McKenry, Nick Reutter and Kietzman.
The following committee assignments were also reviewed:
— Advertising committee: Abbe, Epps, Hudson and Curtis.
— Annual meeting committee: Abbe, Meyer and Hudson.
— Budget committee: Curtis and Kietzman.
— Golf outing committee: Hudson, Abbe, Epps, McKenry and Kietzman.
— July Fourth celebration committee: Reutter, Galvin and Meyer.
— Lunch ‘N Learn committee: Meyer.
— Nominating committee: Kietzman.
— Community relations: Meyer.
— Legal counsel: Galvin.
Financial report and budget
The chamber’s membership also reviewed the financial report for the previous year and the proposed budget for the upcoming year.
The financial report showed a deficit of $1,967 for 2018, with $39,030 in income and $40,997 in expenses.
All but $30 of the income came from membership dues ($14,000), event income ($20,000) and sponsorships ($5,000).
Expenses included event costs ($17,000), employee salaries/expenses ($16,320), office expenses ($3,527), the annual audit ($500), advertising for members ($1,200), insurance ($500), miscellaneous costs ($250) and donations to the Christmas parade ($500), Swine ‘N’ Dine BBQ Contest & Festival ($500), Paxton’s fireworks show ($500) and other organizations ($200).
The proposed budget, meanwhile, shows a projected profit of $2,260 for the upcoming year, with $36,975 in income and $34,715 in expenses.
Income is expected to come from membership dues ($10,625), event income ($18,750), sponsorships ($7,500) and miscellaneous sources ($100).
Projected expenses include event costs ($16,500), employee salaries/expenses ($9,590), office expenses ($4,475), taxes ($250), advertising for chamber members ($1,200) and donations to the Christmas parade ($500), Swine ‘N’ Dine BBQ Contest & Festival ($500), Paxton’s fireworks show ($500), the CEO program at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School ($1,000) and miscellaneous organizations ($200).
As of Jan. 1, the chamber’s checking account at The Frederick Community Bank in Paxton contained $16,291, down from $20,054 a year prior. Its Chamber Bucks account contained $10,071, up from $9,688.
Upcoming chamber-related events were also discussed, including bingo games to be played from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 18, June 15, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 14 and Oct. 19; a Business After Hours networking event from 5 to 7 p.m. May 9 at Accolade Healthcare in Paxton; a ribbon-cutting event at 5 p.m. May 15 at Chakra Studio; the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration on July 4 at Pells Park; the chamber’s annual golf outing on Aug. 23 at Lakeview Country Club at Bayles Lake; and the Paxton Swine ‘N’ Dine BBQ Contest & Festival on Sept. 21.
Also at the annual meeting, Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold gave his annual “City of Paxton Year in Review” speech, and Jessica Tharp of the Better Business Bureau presented “Beyond the Sign: Engaging in Trust Using the 3 C’s: Character, Culture and Community.”