Virtual chamber of commerce launched in Montrose

Laura Williams

A former member of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce has launched an effort to provide businesses a new resource for networking and promotion after the chamber closed.

Laura Williams, chief executive officer of InSync Media, has started the Montrose Virtual Chamber of Commerce. “Creating the virtual chamber is one thing that my company can do to make Montrose competitive locally, regionally and even nationally,” she said.

The virtual chamber offers an online business directory to promote Montrose businesses and a tool to help members rank in Google searches.

Williams said InSync Media specializes in search engine optimization, so she knows the importance of an optimized business directory. “We get calls every week from local businesses who want their website to show up in the right searches. Our desire is to operate a free platform so that every single business in Montrose can create an SEO-friendly listing and reap all the benefits of showing up in the right Google searches.”

Businesses and organizations can join the Montrose Virtual Chamber of Commerce at no charge. The only qualification an organization must meet to create a listing is they have a physical location with a Montrose County zip code, she said.

Williams said she hopes the virtual chamber ultimately will serve as an online business hub for Montrose with a listing of every Montrose business, reviews, e-commerce, forums, nonprofit volunteer opportunities, job postings and more.

The Montrose Chamber of Commerce closed in May, bringing an end to an organization that operated for 130 years.

The dissolution of the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism in 2013 and its supporting revenue structure reduced revenue the chamber was never able to replace with a membership model. A succession of four executive directors in four years and shifting priorities also made it difficult to increase the chamber membership base.

Williams was on the chamber board of directors and joined in the unanimous vote to close the organization. “It was a difficult decision. Closing down a historic chamber is not a decision made lightly. As a board, we invested countless hours into rebuilding the chamber into a sustainable organization. In the end, we had to say goodbye to the chamber and hope that other organizations would continue to provide the resources so desperately needed by our business community.”

Other organizations took over some of the chamber functions and activities, she said. Region 10 provides certificate of origin stamps. Boys and Girls Club and Proximity Space lead the 970 Studio business mentorship and marketing services program involving high school students. The Development and Revitalization Team handles ribbon cuttings. NuVista Credit Union organizes the Senior Reality Fair. The City of Montrose took over the Montrose U leadership class.

But a business directory still was needed, Williams said. “With the closing of the Montrose chamber and the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) in the summer of 2019, the business directories of both organizations went away. There was no longer a comprehensive directory for Montrose businesses.”

Williams said the goal of any chamber of commerce is to promote small business growth and further the interests of those businesses. She said she hopes the virtual chamber will help

“Montrose has so much to offer in terms of business opportunities and a high standard of living. I can see the Montrose of 2040 being the center for technology, business and innovation on the Western Slope, attracting businesses from around the country.”

For more information about the Montrose Virtual Chamber of Commerce, log on to https://montrosechamber.com. The first 500 businesses to join will be entered into a drawing for an iPad.