A new leader for Blue Earth’s Chamber of Commerce
A familiar face at the Blue Earth Giant Welcome Center and Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce has stepped up as Blue Earth’s new Chamber director.
Shellie Poetter, who has been the chamber’s administrative assistant for the past four years, is now the chamber executive director.
“I am so excited for this. I love working with my peers where we are working towards the same goals,” Poetter says of the Chamber’s board. “Working with a board, how it works and helps other members of the chamber has been a great learning experience these past few years, and I am very much excited to continue to bring everyone’s different ideas to the table in order to better our community and its businesses.”
Poetter has lived in Faribault County her whole life and was a graduate of Blue Earth Area. She and her husband of 32 years, Dan, have a farm just outside of Blue Earth where her son, Lukas, 25, is the sixth generation to farm the land. The Poetter’s daughter, Alexis, just recently graduated from Minnesota State University- Mankato, with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Poetter says things at the Giant Welcome Center and chamber office have certainly been different since COVID-19, but says she is eager to get back to normal.
“We are hoping we will be able to re-open our doors by June 22,” she says. “And our volunteers will be a welcomed sight to see.”
There will be a COVID-19 preparedness plan in place for the Giant Welcome Center’s guests, but all-in-all, Poetter says she is ready to welcome visitors and talking to local chamber members to see how she can help once again.
“It’s good to get back to some version of normal. We were sad to announce we would be unable to do Giant Days this year, but I think there is still plenty of time in summer to do something fun for our community,” says the hopeful chamber director. “Giant Days is absolutely one of my favorite Chamber celebrations that we have. Blue Earth is such a supportive community when it comes to our celebration events.”
And Poetter says she has a few new ideas cooking for the future, as well. Much like the Chamber’s chili cook-off, Poetter hopes to have a “farm to table” fundraiser where chefs and kitchen connoisseurs of all levels get to work with local ingredients to make something tasty everyone can try.
“It’s just in the idea stage at this point, but I think it would be a great way of letting people know what is available in our area as far as fresh, organic produce, and it will also help show our agriculture farmers and families that we see them, we support them, and we want to see them prosper. If people have those producers right in front of them and they get to taste first-hand what these farmers produce, its easier for them to connect with one another.”
Poetter says she has a few other ideas in store, like a potential chamber blog where each chamber member would have the opportunity to highlight their business, as well as online shopping on the Blue Earth Chamber site.
“I’m hoping to get this going fairly soon. I know a lot of folks find ease in shopping online and we at the chamber want to make that happen for our gifts that are available at the Giant Welcome Center,” Poetter says. “We also will be linking other chamber member’s mercantile websites to our site so we can connect our chamber member pages together for a one-stop shop. I’m super excited about that.”
Poetter says there are currently 157 Blue Earth Area chamber members, but there are a ton more businesses in the area to boot.
For businesses interested in becoming chamber members, Poetter explains how easy it is.
“Call us, check out our website and we can set up a meeting. Events like Giant Days, Crazy Dog Days of Summer, and the Holiday Sampler are funded through our chamber members,” Poetter explains. “We can’t do these wonderful things for our community without them. Each chamber member, depending on what their needs are, can have a membership that fits for them. There are lots of perks for being a chamber member including marketing and promotional packages, sponsorships for community events, and much more. You can invest as much or as little as you want. We want to make it affordable for everyone. And you don’t have to own a business to be a chamber member. Individuals can be chamber members, too.”
Poetter says a supportive community and chamber like Blue Earth’s is a rarity.
“You would be hard-pressed to find an active community like Blue Earth’s in a big city. Our chamber community is so amazing with the amount of time and money they bring to our chamber events for our citizens.”
And for the average citizen, there is much you can do to promote both the city of Blue Earth and it’s chamber members. Poetter has a good list of ideas.
“Stay engaged is the biggest thing anyone can do to help promote our community and its businesses. Be aware of community events and gatherings, and participate in those events,” says Poetter. “Participation in committees, community groups, or simply attending chamber events is a great way to support the chamber and it’s members. Become a sponsor or volunteer anywhere! It doesn’t just have to be the chamber. Volunteers are needed everywhere. You never know how important your impact could be.”
Poetter also says referring tourists and out-of-town guests to local businesses and promotions is a great way to promote the chamber and its members. And for chamber members, be sure you are displaying your chamber decal in your business storefronts so guests can see you are a member.
“Lastly, and this is a no-brainer,” adds Poetter. “Shop local, buy local, and support local businesses and organizations. Shop sales, talk with your local merchants and develop good rapport with them. You never know what they can offer you until they ask.”
All-in-all, Poetter says her experience as an administrative assistant has prepared her thoroughly for her role as the Blue Earth Chamber’s executive director and she is ready to go.