Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Group plans new chamber of commerce

Expectation is to boost local events


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum business owner Pete Prekeges speaks to the Ketchum City Council in 2011. Express file photo

During the Ketchum Wide Open pub-crawl event last spring, the idea was hatched to start a new Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce. Three years ago, the chamber was folded into the new Sun Valley Marketing Alliance.

"We had the best turnout ever for the Ketchum Wide Open," said Pete Prekeges, owner of Grumpy's Burgers and Beer in Ketchum.

He said the numbers were high, even though the Marketing Alliance no longer markets the event, choosing instead to focus on Internet marketing outside the area. The Marketing Alliance has continued to offer chamber-type memberships but some business operators feel they are not being adequately represented.

"Have you ever heard of a town without a chamber of commerce?" Prekeges asked. "Chambers are run by businesses, not marketing professionals."

Prekeges said he and three friends decided to register the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce as a nonprofit corporation with the state of Idaho to replace the old chamber and to work with the Marketing Alliance. He said the new chamber would focus on local events and marketing them locally and regionally, and coordinating things for people to do during slack months.

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"We will network, do Business After Hours (events) and put on events every month except for March, July and August, because those are the three months when we are fine because things are already going on," Prekeges said.

Prekeges said a chamber's participation can boost local events. He said an Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Association event, Ketchum Castaway, which took place in June and sold out three clinics per day for three days, could have done even better.

"Very few outside of the avid fishing community knew about it," he said, "even though it brought in two of the best fly-fishing casters in the nation, including April Vokey, who could catch a fish on a dirt road."

Prekeges said that he hopes that next year the new chamber will hold the event for an entire week.

"That would be good for June, when there's not very much going on," he said.

For more information, call Prekeges at 720-3171.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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