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2011 SunDowner sign-ups scheduled for Oct. 4

It is the time of year when the annual rush for the SunDowner sign-ups begins.

SunDowners are “Business After Hours” functions during which owners can show off a brand new business or something new in their business, or just reintroduce what they offer to the public.

Businesses in close proximity to each other even co-op and host a “block” party, or partner with a business that may not have store-frontage. While SunDowners are fun social interactions, they also serve a great purpose: they are effective networking opportunities, probably one of the best opportunities available in the community — and you have fun.

We highly encourage business owners to co-op a SunDowner, again especially if they do not all have store frontage. We have a lot of home-based businesses that could use some more exposure. Partner with another business. Similar-type businesses can also co-op. Think of a creative place to have a SunDowner and make the event unique. If you own or run a new establishment, SunDowners provide terrific exposure for your facility. Non-profit organizations can even utilize this opportunity to host a fund-raiser.

There are many reasons and opportunities to have a SunDowner. Because of their popularity, SunDowners are booked the year in advance. Business owners interested in hosting a SunDowner should come to the Chamber on Monday, Oct. 4. Beginning at 8 a.m., we will start filling in the months for 2011. SunDowners are typically held the fourth Wednesday of the month except for November and December, when they are held the third Wednesday of the month, due to the holidays. There is also no SunDowner in January due to the Chamber annual meeting, or in September due to ColorFest. Some people have a specific month in mind so they arrive at the Chamber earlier than 8 a.m. Numbers are available on a first come-first served draw. The lower your number, the better chance you have of selecting your preferred month. We also take a waiting list in case there are cancellations. You must be a Chamber member to host a SunDowner. The business provides edibles, while the Chamber provides the alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments. SunDowners are open to Chamber members and invited guests.

If you have any questions about hosting a SunDowner or the sign-up procedure, call Kim or Mary Jo at the Chamber at 264-2360.

End of September

There will be several big events hosted by Pagosa groups on Saturday, Sept. 25. Some activities are in town, another is co-hosted and held in Durango, and another yet encompasses quite a bit of air space.

The first is the annual Mountain Chile Cha-Cha, which is an athletic and a culinary activity. The morning starts off with a “fun run” for the kids at 7:30 a.m. in Town Park. The adults then gather and head off on 3-, 7- or 15-mile running races. This race is the last in the Pagosa Peak Trail Race Series sponsored by GECKO. The adult races begin at 8:30 a.m., also in Town Park; they will continue around the Reservoir Hill area and end up back in Town Park. The day continues for the non-athletes with the green chile cook-off and free musical entertainment at the park. The tasting begins at 12:30 p.m. and the music begins at 1:30 p.m. Musical groups this year are Brooks-I and Nosotros. This lively event rounds out the outdoor festival season. With the leaves turning, the smells and tastes of green chile and other flavorful foods, and the sounds of energetic music, participants will enjoy the day.

Also early in the morning, there will be the Sport Air Racing show held at Stevens Field. This race will host some beautiful planes. The Sport Air Racing League has created a series of races across the country and this is the second year that one will be held in Pagosa. This is a closed circuit race beginning and ending at the field. The planes are great because you will find many that have been hand-built. This race is for plane builders and owners to test and improve aircraft modifications. Points are awarded that will accrue in the League’s race to the championship. The excitement continues until about noon. Bring the family out early – as early as 8 a.m. – to see the planes and visit with the pilots.

Then, after visiting the Cha-Cha or the Air Race, you can zip over to Durango to enjoy the Humane Society’s “Struttin’ at the Strater.” The Humane Society partners again with the Durango Dogster Group, each raising money for animal and spay/neuter programs. This fashion show will include Pagosa and Durango retail stores with some great shopping discounts, as well as terrific door prizes. The fashion show will begin at 3:30 p.m. and run until about 5:30.

In addition to the fashion show, there will be gourmet hors d’oeuvres served by struttin’ waiters who will compete for the title of best waiter. Tables for the event at the Strater are still available. Runway tables are already sold out; but reserved tables for nine are still available, as well as individual and bar seating. You can purchase tickets at the Chamber or the Humane Society Thrift Store. For more information, contact the Humane Society administrative offices at 264-5549.

Marketing for Smarties

Registration for the semi-annual Marketing for Smarties class is coming to a close as the first class will be held Wednesday, Oct. 6. This three-session seminar digs into marketing your business. The “excuse for not marketing cycle” begins with the notion that you don’t have time to market. Referrals or leads are then few and without enough leads, you don’t get enough customers. Without new customers, your business stays flat, and without growth, cash flow becomes a concern. Without cash flow you can’t hire help to grow, and then you, as the owner, have to do everything yourself. Find out how to market to acquire new customers and find a niche for your business.

The classes then continue on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and Wednesday, Nov. 10, and all classes are held at the Chamber. The cost of the class is $149 including materials. Scholarships are also available. Space is limited, so register now with the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College at 247-7009, or contact Lynn Asano at asano_l@fortlewis.edu. Take this time to help your business and move it forward for the upcoming years.

Peer Networking

The Chamber will start up the Peer Networking groups again this fall. As we go into a slower time of year for many businesses, this is a great time for business owners to compare notes, share pitfalls and what is working, and to develop greater business skills. We will announce when the like-tenure groups will meet in the next couple of weeks and who some of the mentors will be.

Membership

We are pleased to announce a plethora of renewing businesses this week, without whose support the efforts of the Chamber would not be possible.

Renewing this week are: Lantern Dancer renewing with Chamber board member, Doris Green; the Outfitter Department Store; Happy Trails Ladies Boutique; The Tile Store; Design-A-Sign; Mountain Eye Care; Pagosa Auto Parts; Subway West; Exit Realty Advantage Pagosa; Cowboy Carpet Cleaning; Treecology; and Sonrisas Spanish School. Our non-profit organizations renewing are Reach for the Peaks and Abate of Colorado D-19. Although they won’t be back in the area until next spring, we also welcome back Canyon Rio Rafting.

As we take this time to catch our breath after a season of heavy events, we encourage businesses to evaluate their successes and areas of improvement and look to join a networking group, or attend one of the many seminars that will be coming up. Please call the Chamber for more information on upcoming classes, or sign up on our FaceBook page (the link is on our website homepage) to get the latest news about ongoing activities.