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Chamber director leaves

By Staff | Apr 28, 2019

Cindy Lyon stands outside the new Chamber of Commerce Giant Welcome Center, above. She has been the chamber’s executive director for the past eight years.

After almost exactly eight years of being the executive director of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce, Cindy Lyon has decided to resign her position and retire.

Well, sort of retire.

“I still plan on having a part time job or two,” she says. “And I still have an interest in helping out in the community, especially in my role as a Master Gardener.”

Lyon says she is proud of the work of the Chamber and especially the accomplishment of getting the new Giant Welcome Center and Giant Memorabilia Museum completed and opened, but she just felt it was time to move on.

“I’m happy with a lot we were able to accomplish as the Chamber,” Lyon says. “For one thing, we have expanded our membership quite a lot, and as far as financially, well, our financial situation is strong.”

There are many other items of accomplishment over the past eight years Lyon lists.

One is working with the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition to encourage bicycle riding around the town.

The Little Red Barn, which used to be the souvenir shop by the Green Giant statue will now become a bike rental spot.

Another is the Blue Earth Visitors Guide, which the Chamber publishes in conjunction with the Faribault County Register.

“We have more than doubled the distribution of the Visitors Guide,” Lyon says. “We make sure it is available everywhere. It is the most popular visitors guide at the Mall of America.”

The retiring Chamber director is also proud of all of the community connections the Chamber has made.

“We work with a lot of groups to help promote what they do,” Lyon says. “Like Interfaith Caregivers, Blue Earth Area Mentors, United Hands Hospice, and many more. We do so much more than just promote businesses on Main Street. We want to promote the whole community of Blue Earth and I think we do.”

The Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing is something else Lyon lists.

“The golfing part has really grown over the years,” she notes. “Not so much the wine and beer tasting part. Lars Bierly does a wonderful job with the tournament.”

Having Christmas Wonderland lights up around town is another big thing. And Lyon says there is a dedicated group that has helped with that over the years, led by Rich Belou.

Of course, Giant Days is the big event of the year, and it takes a lot of planning and organization to put that on.

“I started the Giant Garden Tour during Giant Days, myself, and I plan on continuing to do that,” Lyon says. “I am not sure yet about the Yard of the Week Award. I was doing that before I became the executive director and I have not decided if I will continue to do it or not.”

Other items Lyon mentions as things the Chamber has done include the fall and spring garage sales, city-wide cleanup, Holiday Sampler, downtown flower pots, selecting citizen and business of the year and many more things almost too numerous to mention.

“I am trying to write down all the things we do throughout the year for the next director to have as a guide,” Lyon says. “And the list is getting really long.”

The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has been advertising the position and hopes to have someone hired and in place by June 1. There have been eight applications as of last Wednesday, with the deadline for applications last Thursday. The board plans to do interviews and have someone selected by mid-May.

They are also planning a retirement reception for Lyon that will be held on Thursday, May 9, from 5-7 p.m., at Hamilton Hall in Blue Earth.

When Lyon talks about what she might do next, she says she is not sure, but does say she feels like she has been a life-long professional florist.

“I worked at Blue Earth Landscape for 22 years,” Lyon says. “Then I owned my own business, the Tea House. But after I got cancer, I couldn’t work seven days a week and two nights like that anymore.”

She has had other jobs, including being a school cook, a hostess at Country Kitchen, two years at Walmart and then Gartzke’s Greenhouse for eight and a half years.

Gartzke’s is where she was working when she says she was urged by others to apply for the open Chamber of Commerce director position and then got the job.

“I have always been interested in tourism and promoting our town,” Lyon says. “No matter where I was working, I always wanted to promote Blue Earth and enjoyed telling folks from out of town what all was here in Blue Earth.”

Including the Green Giant. She has had a long history with the giant Green guy.

“My first job when I was 16 was at the Green Giant Canning plant,” Lyon says. “In fact, the actual machine I ran is now in the Giant Museum. I guess I?can’t get away from it.”

But, she will now. Tuesday, April 30, is her last official day as the executive director of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce.

However, it is doubtful it will be her last day promoting the home of the Jolly Green Giant to others.