The Chamber is the champion for business, dedicated to promoting a strong business climate in the Estes Valley, making Estes a great place to live, work and play. We are responsible to members first – run by members and funded by members, in business for your business. With a dedicated paid staff, we are here for YOU!
The Voice of Business
When the Estes Chamber was founded in May 2019, Estes Park had been without a Chamber of Commerce for 15 years. Our Board of Directors laid a solid foundation in 2019 and hired our first full time Executive Director in March 2020. In spite of the COVID-19 epidemic, we added 50 new members in the summer of 2020 because
- Business needs to connect with business and we've established the most comprehensive business directory in the Estes Valley, creating business referrals and advertising opportunities for members.
- Members need to connect with members, to share best practices and workforce strategies.
- The Estes business community needs a voice to advocate at local, county, state, and federal levels.
- The community realizes the only way to create a resilient economy is to keep the workforce agile through education programs, speakers and leadership development resources.
- Our business community needs someone who will listen. That's what we're here for. If we don't have the answer, it's our job to find out who does.
What has the Estes Chamber done this year?
- Assembled a lodging industry focus group, as well as groups in retail and F&B, to establish business continuity plans during the pandemic
- Collaborated a response with other Larimer county chambers for variance to open at 100%
- Advocated with county and state governments for lodging interests during pandemic reopening
- Created forums for contingency planning and business resiliency
- Sourced and supplied hand sanitizer at cost when most suppliers were out
- Started creating advertising co-op networks, running the 1st one for the holiday season 2020
- Petitioned state senators for legislation to protect small business
- Petitioned county commissioners to help with flood zone decisions in favor of Thompson Canyon lodging owners
- Organized a summit of county commissioner and DA candidates to talk about issues important to tourism
- Took control of the approval process to have our traditional Halloween celebration approved
- We’ve added over 50 new members at a time when many chambers are shutting down and laying off staff
- We convened our 1st fundraiser and recruited 108 players to our golf tournament, raising $25,000
- At a time when many organizations are uncertain how to hold a safe event, organized a gumbo dinner for 100 people
- Established Chamber Foundation as a 501c3 so we can qualify for grants to improve workforce development, training and education.
- Created cooperative ads for chamber members to share ad costs in the interest of winter tourism
- Collaborated with Visit Estes Park and a PR campaign to get visitors back in town after the fires
- Creative partnership with Front Range media to attract long-weekend visitors and recover lost revenue
- Organized Holiday Scavenger Hunt to get locals and guests to storefronts across town
- Organized #ShopLocal campaign and distributed resources to all business members
- Joining forces with other Chambers and regional leaders to initiate a five star certification program to keep businesses open
- Creating industry task forces to form the constructs of industry councils
Our Executive Director
Donna Carlson joined the Chamber in March of 2020, right at the beginning of the COVID crisis. After 25 years of high-tech PR experience, Donna moved into the non-profit world and shifted her focus onto leadership development. After five years at Compassion International, she moved to The Center for Creative Leadership and then formed her own consultancy providing women's leadership development with 360 Life Strategies.
She was focused on small business strategies when the role with the Estes Chamber materialized. "This is the perfect place to apply the combination of PR, marketing, networking and business development expertise," Donna says. "I also get to help a town I've loved for 25 years recover from a paradigm-changing global pandemic. It's an honor to be here."
Donna has been traveling to Estes Park as a visitor for 25 years. Her husband Jeff helps seniors save money on Medicare and her three daughters -- 23, 19 and 17 -- are big supporters of the ice cream business in town.