ISHPEMING - After years of not having a dedicated chamber of commerce, the west end of Marquette County is again represented by such an organization with the opening of the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce in September 2010.
Named as executive director of the organization was former television anchor Elizabeth Peterson.
"I think the biggest challenge is creating our own identity," Peterson said from the chamber's new office in the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Elizabeth Peterson walks with others from the committee working to puttogether a new event for the area around the SuicideBowl ski jump - a 5K Mud Plunge adventure run set for later this summer. (Photo courtesy of the GINCC)
A graduate of Michigan State University, Peterson worked as a reporter and news anchor in Alpena before moving to the Upper Peninsula.
In its first month, the GINCC grew to 42 members and now has 150 members, representing communities from Negaunee to Michigamme.
That good response can be attributed to the desire by west-end residents and businesses to see the area highlighted, she said.
"They want to see the area marketed," Peterson said. "They want the spotlight back on the Ishpeming-Negaunee area."
She said she hopes to use her background in the area, as well as connections she has made working in the local news media, 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."
The chamber now has a dedicated website at www.gincc.org, which includes a directory of businesses, information about the chamber itself and a community calendar.
Peterson and the chamber have also been working to create and support events that bring positive attention to the west end.
Recently, Peterson was named as the chair for the annual Ishpeming Fourth of July community picnic, which did not occur last year as the result of not enough volunteers and support.
"They really need the community support for it to continue," Peterson said. "I'm working a lot on that right now."
In addition, the chamber is also working to bring a new event to the Ishpeming area, this time highlighting to trail system around the Suicide Bowl Ski Jump. In August, the first Suicide Mud Plunge 5K adventure run will take place, allowing individuals and teams to run a muddy course around the area's trails.
"We want to bring more awareness to the Suicide Bowl area," Peterson said. "Right now we're trying to get sponsors."
Businesses can sponsor the race itself or one of the six to eight obstacles that the runners will have to negotiate during the race.
Registration for competitors will begin May 1. Check www.gincc.org for updates. The new chamber office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The new phone number is 906-486-1111. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is email@example.com.