Record-setting year for Four Flags Area Chamber

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce has just finished a busy year that included record turnouts and launching the only website of its kind in the state.
President/CEO Ronald Sather said 2003 also had its share of difficult times but he was very pleased with the strong finish.
Sather said slumping sales, layoffs and store closings were the biggest challenges that faced the Chamber of Commerce last year.
Sather is happy the economy is getting better and sees great signs of improvement in our community.
In 2003, the Chamber of Commerce added 83 new members, which pushed their grand total to 626 members.
Each year the chamber offers a variety of activities to improve business in our area.
One of the biggest accomplishments of 2003 was the launching of a website that will include a web page for each of its members.
In September, the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce became the only chamber in the State of Michigan to offer such a website.
The web pages will include a picture, a small write-up and basic information about the business.
They had their largest turnout ever at the "Holiday Business After Hours" with a crowd of over 200 people.
This event took place at the Riverfront Cafe on Dec. 10.
There are usually five or six of the "Business After Hours" events every year.
Sather said these events have food, a cash bar, prizes and a networking table for business cards, pamphlets and other means of advertising.
There was also a record turnout at November's "Santa's Arrival," a chamber sponsored event that takes place at the Riverfront Park.
The annual event had 600 to 700 children and parents come out to visit Santa Claus on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Sather said one of his favorite events sponsored by the chamber is the annual fireworks display.
He said they spend thousands of dollars every year to put on a spectacular show on July 3 at the Apple Festival fairgrounds.
Free business seminars are another event that are available to the members of the chamber.
Some of last year's seminars included themes like computers, marketing strategies and other business related topics.
Business referrals are another big part of the chamber's duties.
Sather is very optimistic about the prospects for 2004.
He said projects like the downtown revitalization, the expansion of Walmart and the opening of new businesses like Lowe's and a Teacher's Credit Union are all good signs for the future.
The Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce even has a new slogan for 2004 that echoes Sather's optimism for the new year, "Progress is our Business."

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