Chamber rolls with volunteer help
By Mike Mathes
The 2016 Kiel Area Association of Commerce Board of Directors is includes (front, from left) Al Mayer, Collins State Bank; Matt Gannon, Riesterer Financial Services; Becky Schmid, Agristaff USA; Joan Lechler, Bank Mutual, Chamber treasurer; and Mary Christel, Christel’s Pet Supplies & More, Chamber president; and (back) Karen Hennings, Bonde’s Quik Mart; John Korb, Sargento, Chamber vice president; Pam Mathes, Delta Publications, Chamber secretary; Dennis Weber, Weber Oil; Theresa Zimmermann, Future Focus Group; and Shawn Mangan, Eissens & Haasl Financial Group. Not pictured is Roxane Lisowe, Sneak A Peek Boutique.

Promoting Kiel is no small task.

But, thanks to the volunteer business members in the Kiel Area Association of Commerce, ideas to build the community remain on the front burner.

The Kiel chamber has wielded its positive input on community growth and success since its inception in 1919.

Through the years, the Association of Commerce has made its presence known through a series of promotional and educational events that have grown in scope and size. Some have become part of the annual fabric of the Kiel community.

Among them are events like Ice Sculpting, Kiel German Day, the Kiel Parade, the Kiel Christmas Parade and a pair of new events added last year—Kiel Kraftacular, which takes place in August and the WhoDunnit evening in October.

Kiel Area Association of Commerce President Mary Christel said that the chamber is constantly looking for ways to add to its promotions list, while at the same time growing the promotions that have been traditional.

“We are a volunteer organization, and it takes a lot of people to make our events a success,” Christel said. She praised the members who have been willing to serve on boards and committees and especially those who have chaired events.

“I don’t think that people realize sometimes the amount of volunteers it truly takes to run events like the Kiel Parade or German Day,” she added.

This year, for the first time, at its annual meeting, the Kiel Area Association of Commerce recognized business members for their service to the chamber and the community.

Roxanne Lisowe of Sneak-A-Peek was honored as the outstanding member of the year.

The year ahead

Christel said the Chamber is planning another action-packed year of promotions. Ice Sculpting is already in the books for this year, with the event celebrating its silver anniversary.

June will bring German Days—the chamber’s major fundraiser to support the Kiel Parade.

Plans are underway to create a new promotion for a Friday in July—the Kieland Blues event. Stay tuned to the News and the chamber website for more information.

WhoDunnit, a mystery evening involving Kiel businesses, will return for a second year after a successful inaugural event last year. The theme will be announced in September.

Planning is already under way for another great Kiel Parade, the most visible event hosted each year by the Kiel Area Association of Commerce.

“Many people may not be aware that the Kiel Area Association of Commerce foots the bill for the parade,” Christel said. “We have to raise funds to bring in the marching groups through money raised at German Day and in the 50-50 raffle.”

That’s why volunteers who help run those events have such a great impact, Christel added.

Member support

The Kiel Area Association also offers member support in many fashions.

In addition to building group promotions to help local business, the chamber also works through Affinity Health Care to provide Health E-Visits to its members, including an ability to get health diagnostic information on line for a minimal fee.

Educational workshops are also offered as topics of need are identified. Christel said the chamber is also trying to figure out ways to boost Kiel’s downtown, in answer to some of the business attrition that has occurred on Fremont Street

Committee structure

Through its committee structure, the Kiel Area Association of Commerce serves its mission.

The Economic and Workforce Development Committee includes subgroups devoted to capital improvements, economic development and workforce development.

Retail events, special events and media exposure are the realm of the Promotions Committee, including the special events for 2016 and their committee chair persons.

Christmas parade -Mary Christel, ch. -November 26, 2016;

Ice Sculpting -Jeff McCarey, ch. -February 6, 2016;

Kiel Parade -Becky Schmid, ch. -August 14;

Trick or Treat Fest -Karen Hennings and Tammy Beringer, ch. -Oct. 2016;

WhoDunnit -Mary Christel, ch. -Oct. 6.

Kieland Blues -a new event planned for a Friday in summer. An evening with a “blues” setting.

Social Media -Shawn Mangan, Pam Mathes and Tammy Beringer.

Fundraising events

The chamber also sponsors several major fundraising events throughout the year.

Kiel Kraftacular, chaired by Roxanne Lisowe, brought over 1,300 visitors to the community last year. It is set for August 27 this year.

The 50-50 raffle, currently under way, is a means of raising funds to help support the Kiel Parade. Drawing takes place at Kiel German Day.

German Day, chaired by John Korb, is the major chamber fundraiser. All proceeds go to the parade. This year’s German Day is tentatively planned for Friday, June 10.

The Membership Committee acts as a channel to keep the organization, its membership and the public informed about the chamber’s mission. It is also responsible for the membership drive, which raises the funds to operate the chamber and its promotions.

Governed by a Board of Directors, the chamber leadership group includes officers Mary Christel-Christel’s Pet Supplies & More-chamber President, John Korb-Sargento-chamber Vice President, Pam Mathes-Delta Publicationschamber Secretary, Joan Lechler-Bank Mutual-chamber Treasurer,

Directors for 2016 include Al Mayer-Collins State Bank, Matt Gannon-Riesterer Financial Services, Becky Schmid-Agristaff USA, Karen Hennings-Bonde’s Quik Mart, Dennis Weber-Weber Oil, Theresa Zimmermann-Future Focus Group, Shawn Mangan-Eissens & Haasl Financial Group and Roxane Lisowe-Sneak A Peek Boutique.

For more information about the Kiel chamber, please visit the association’s website.

The chamber also offers a public kiosk in the 500 block of Fremont Street to allow members an opportunity to promote their own businesses.