ISHPEMING - After several months of planning and preparation, the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce is open for business.
The group named Elizabeth Peterson, formerly a local television news personality, as executive director of the organization.
"I think the biggest challenge is creating our own identity," Peterson said Monday morning from the chamber's new office in the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame on U.S. 41.
Named Monday as the executive director of the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce, former local television news personality Elizabeth Peterson stands outside the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, which will house the new chamber office. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
A graduate of Michigan State University, she worked as a TV news personality in Alpena before moving to the Upper Peninsula.
She said she hopes to use her background in the area, as well as connections she has made working in television, to help forward the mission of the west-end chamber.
"Working at the TV station, the best part of the job is being out with business owners and residents," Peterson said. "I knew I wanted to continue working with all the amazing people I had already met."
Up first for the newly-formed chamber is recruiting members - one business has already signed up - and putting together the various benefits that members of the chamber will receive.
So far those benefits include advertising discounts, insurance discounts and group rates, monthly lunches and speaker events, a monthly newsletter and others. Peterson said she and the chamber board would be working to add to those benefits.
Also in the works is a chamber website, for use both by local businesses, local residents and those from outside the area who wish to visit or move to the area.
"A big part of the next month or so is talking to business owners and talking to residents," Peterson said.
A "meet the chamber" event is also being planned for early October.
Chamber board president Dr. Bruce Turino said he felt confident in the new director.
"She's very outgoing and she's a face that's recognizable," Turino said. "We're putting a face on the chamber.
"I think the chamber was a thing a lot of the businesses were missing, just to know you're not alone ... We've all got to work together and the more we can do that the better we'll be."
The new chamber office is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The new phone number is 906-486-1111.
The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.