The first round of the new four-color plaques for the Northeast Kingdom Chamber has been delivered and has received a resounding stamp of approval from our members.

We unveiled the new membership plaques at our recent annual meeting and I was pleasantly surprised at the audience response. We even got a few oooohs and ahhhs. I knew in my heart of hearts, however, that I would not get a true honest reaction until I actually started delivering the plaques in person.

One of my favorite responses was on the first day of making deliveries, in fact. Dr. Scott Bedell, a dentist from Lyndonville, noted we had really stepped up our game with the new plaques, that they were very classy. Don’t think I let Scott get away with just saying that lovely compliment. Every person I deliver a plaque to gets their picture taken, with a post on what they do, on our chamber social media page.

Delivering these plaques has also allowed me to hear feedback and concerns from our members on what they want and need from our organization, which, frankly, is very important for me to hear. One of the most common responses I have heard from members is that they want far more aggressive advocacy for businesses from the chamber, feedback this longtime director has taken to heart.

In the past month, our chamber has assisted with the fundraising campaign at the Good Living Senior Center, tried to remove roadblocks for a local restaurant in its re-opening, worked with another regional restaurant to put procedures and protocols in place so it has the best chance of succeeding in the future, examined flood-plain regulations in Lyndonville and looked at parking challenges in downtown St. Johnsbury.

This advocacy is something our board has really embraced, that while we are a larger chamber in the region, we should never lose that personal touch with our members and area.

You might be interested in knowing that the plaque change came about due to a two-fold increase in cost for the previous ones and instead of seeing it as a negative, we saw it as an opportunity to make a needed change. Jenn Garand and I scoured the internet, looking for companies that could provide a look like no one had seen before. The end result ended up incorporating the organization’s beautiful logo artwork in the plaque. The artwork was done by local artist Joan Harlowe and depicts a four-season mountain scene of East Burke.

The plaques, unlike the previous ones, are made of a hard plastic and are reusable, with members receiving a “year” sticker upon each year of renewal. In addition to being more attractive than the previous plaques, they are also more affordable over time and environmentally friendly. Talk about a win-win!

Chamber members, you do not have to wait until I make my rounds to pick up a membership plaque. You can drop by our office in the Green Mountain Mall, 2000 Memorial Dr. in St. Johnsbury Center. Just give a quick call at 802-748-3678 to ensure I am at the office, and make sure your hair is combed, because I will be taking a picture of you!

Darcie McCann is the director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.

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