An all-too common scenario in small town America is the disproportionate numbers of young people who leave and never return. For this reason, in every state in the nation, towns the size of Taos are shuttering their businesses – not because of the pandemic – but due to the fact that their young people graduate from high school and set sail for someplace different.
Taos is full of young people who have grand ambitions and many leave for college yet one look at the Taos County Chamber of Commerce proves that here, things are a bit different. Every member of the executive board is a graduate of Taos High School with strong roots that have been cultivated here. According to executive director Lindsey Pfaff Bain, “The connection that our board has to our community speaks to their commitment and it makes a difference – we see it in their priorities.”
Responding to community need
Responsiveness is high on the priority list. With concerns about how to effectively navigate the early stages of the pandemic and best serve not only the chamber’s members but also the community at large, the chamber made the proactive decision to go directly to those who matter most: people in the community they serve. Surveys were created and emailed to members and their mailing lists, posted on social media, and made available to the community. When the results came in, the chamber responded.
“We’re successful when our chamber members are successful. Their success is tied to the community and it makes sense that when the community is in need, we do everything we can to support them. At the end of the day, we are all part of the community. Community members serving locals and visitors,” explained Pfaff Bain.
Through the surveys, the chamber learned that the community needed information on resources like grants and loans and current COVID-19 guidelines. The Chamber worked closely with the town, county, chamber members, community business partners, Enchanted Circle COAD, Holy Cross Hospital/first responders, Taos Municipal Schools and UNM Taos to provide support.
The Taos Plaza Visitor Information Kiosk was one result of the requests gleaned from the surveys. The Town of Taos Kiosk is managed by the chamber with support of the Town of Taos, Taos Mainstreet, Taos Ski Valley Chamber, Heritage Inspirations, LOR Foundation, Taos Connects, Taos Community Foundation, and volunteers to give information to visitors and locals. The chamber pivoted to stay active in events including Taos Plaza Live, Taos Lilac Festival, trainings, networking events, job fairs, and outdoor expos.
“We learned through the surveys that a job fair would be helpful and we have an outdoor job fair planned for Friday (Oct. 15) from noon to 4 p.m. It will be held outside in the Kit Carson Electric Coop. parking lot,” noted Pfaff Bain. The pandemic hit the workforce for employers hard across the nation and Taos has experienced employee shortages. The job fair will give access to employers and potential employees.
Last year, the chamber’s ‘Shop Local, Shop Safe, and Shop Early’ initiative helped to provide a successful boost to businesses struggling to keep their doors open. As this holiday season rapidly approaches, the community will once again be asked to support local businesses and nonprofits now, and throughout the year.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
On the surface, the Taos County Chamber of Commerce may appear to be just another chamber, but it doesn’t take long to realize that this group of dedicated community members are a step above. They take the time to ask the right questions, listen to the responses, and take action.
By collaborating with their peers and listening to community feedback, the Taos County Chamber of Commerce helps to improve the community for everyone including residents, business owners, and the visitors who help to keep our economy strong.
Want to pay it forward? Consider joining the chamber.
“Thank you to the staff, the board, the chamber members, town, county, and the community partners,” concluded Pfaff Bain.
Taos County Chamber of Commerce
www.taoschamber.com / (575) 751-8800
Facebook: Taos County Chamber of Commerce