The Las Cruces Green Chamber: Supporting a Thriving Local Economy
Every day, I have the honor of advocating for and supporting our locally owned businesses. In addition to getting goods and services as much as possible from locally owned business, I love that you can get a great breakfast in town. And lunch. And dinner. Although Las Cruces isn’t a “late-night” town, I think we still have a great deal to enjoy and appreciate. I believe having a thriving local business community adds to those quality of life issues.
This year, the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce celebrated 7 years of service and advocacy on behalf of our locally owned businesses. The Las Cruces Green Chamber is no longer fairly new, but now an organization that is growing at a fast pace, with membership increasing, programs developing, and a strong public presence. The Green Chamber began with a passionate group of people in 2009 and formerly became a chapter in 2010. As we continue to grow, so do the services we provide for our member businesses. We already feature advertising discounts in various local media outlets, discounts at local businesses for members, our Social Media Boost program, and referrals between members. And, this year, we expect those services to multiply with our Non-Profit Support and Success Program and the partnership we have with La Semilla Food Center.
Over the last year, the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce has grown over 25% in membership. I believe this can be attributed to a few things. First, I cannot overlook the impact the designation the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument had for the community and the Green Chamber. Not only are we expecting more tourists to come to Doña Ana County because of the monument, but we have received more national and international attention because of it. Communities in California and Maine are now replicating the efforts the Green Chamber has spearheaded, including the Marketing Toolkit, the annual celebrations, and the Monument Girl Scout Patch. Needless to say, the enthusiasm with which this community has expressed toward the many opportunities available in the Monument has set the standard for other communities to follow. And any efforts to reduce the size of the monument would impact all the great work that has been done to capitalize on the designation.
Another reason why I believe membership has grown in the Las Cruces Green Chamber is that our values of following the Triple Bottom Line are matching up with the values of locally owned businesses. In addition to believing in the value of supporting locally owned businesses, the Green Chamber is constantly stressing the impact locally owned businesses have on our community, economy, and jobs. Locally owned businesses support local jobs, keep money in our community, and give back to local charities 350% more than do national chains. They care about our community because they are invested in our community. When you shop at a local business, you help them give back. It is really that simple.
This is also why the Las Cruces Green Chamber has a significant number of non-profits as members. As a result, the Green Chamber is launching the Non-Profit Support and Success program. It is through this program that local non-profits will have access to consultants in the Legal, Financial, Human Resources, and Grant writing professions, at a reduced rate. Furthermore, Nancy Barnes-Smith, the program coordinator, will provide guidance and assistance in a variety of other much-needed areas. She brings to the program over 30 years of service to the Non-Profit sector.
We also are partnering with La Semilla Food Center on a joint-effort to help our local food businesses. Through a United States Department of Agriculture grant, we have developed a position that will provide support to food-based business, assist in growth and expansion, providing direction when navigating the regulatory and financial landscape, and working to improve local food sourcing and marketing that will help grow sales. We are very pleased to have Julie Wilbanks, a recent MBA graduate from New Mexico State University join our team and spearhead these efforts.
One other reason why I believe the Green Chamber is flourishing is our member to member referrals. When we talk about a sustainable community, we are referring to how we keep money, jobs, and goods in our area rather than send them elsewhere. With member to member referrals, the Green Chamber prides itself on connecting people with businesses and businesses with people. When you find good people doing good work, you want to make sure they thrive. Member to member referrals help our community become economically strong.
I find that one of the constants of serving as CEO/President for the Green Chamber is how can I increase membership in our organization and therefore help more local businesses. Through our efforts, we are able to elevate the conversation about the importance of our local businesses, connect the economic benefits to protecting our public lands, and provide much needed assistance to our local non-profits. If you would like to join, or know of a business that should be a member, please contact us at the information below. We’d love to add you to our fast growing list of locally invested and locally owned businesses.
We are growing. And, it’s because of this community and the many locally owned businesses and non-profits that see our efforts to create more awareness about shopping and supporting local. I invite you to join us in the Localist Movement.
Carrie Hamblen is the CEO/President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 575-323-1575.