On Thursday evening in the office, president Jerry Gibbs and executive director Jeannine Beck were able to relax over a conference table while reflecting on how positive 2011 was for the Maplewood business community.
"I can look back at this year and say, 'Gosh, it's been a really great year,'" said Beck, who is set to begin her fourth year as executive director in 2012.
In 2011, two chamber-run events, and , attracted more attendees than ever before. The great weather certainly helped, Gibbs said, but that's not the only thing that supported the high attendance.
"There's a lot of good buzz about Maplewood," said Gibbs, who owns in downtown Maplewood and has throughout 2011.
It's that buzz that has empowered the chamber to promote Maplewood as a destination for businesses and shoppers, Beck said.
"The only way you have a successful city is by having a thriving business community, a good city government and great school district," she said.
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Beck pointed to a list of businesses that held chamber-sponsored ribbon-cutting events in 2011 as evidence of having the thriving business community. The chamber sponsored 16 ribbon cuttings last year, for restaurants like the and and shops like and .
At the ribbon-cutting events, city leaders, residents and business owners converge at new Maplewood businesses to celebrate their openings. The experience creates relationships by allowing community members to interact and learn about new businesses, Beck said.
The chamber also provides other benefits to its 154 members. In 2011, the chamber held:
- Seven 'Net Lunches,' where chamber members and guests have informal lunches to network.
- Four 'Business and Bagels,' which is similar to the Net Lunches, but allows members to meet in the morning if they can't make it to lunchtime events.
- A pub crawl during in July
- A softball league over the summer
- The chamber night at the ballpark
Gibbs expects the momentum to continue into next year. His term is set to finish in 10 days, but he said he's excited about the new leadership team.
Bill Berthold, president of Frontenac Engineering Group, will take over as president of the chamber. Adrian Glass, owner of , will serve as vice president and Mary Kausch of will serve as second vice president.
Jay Hardy of and Ben Triola of will become new members of the chamber's board of directors. Kay Basta, of Barb Summers and Associates Real Estate, will return to the board after a one-year hiatus.
Editor's note: Maplewood-Brentwood Patch editor Ryan Martin and advertising manager Rebecca Campbell are both members of the Maplewood and Brentwood chambers of commerce.