The International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce will close April 30, 2022.

The International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce will close April 30, 2022.

March 9, 2022 KSDM-KGHS Contests 0

On Tuesday, March 1, 2022 members of the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce met to vote on a resolution passed by the Board of Directors on February 7, 2022 to dissolve the Chamber. The motion to dissolve was voted on and passed by a majority vote of 17-12.

At the membership meeting, Chamber President Tricia Heibel laid out the Board of Directors’ areas of concern that brought the organization to this point. In consideration of the Chamber’s new fiscal year starting May 1, the Board had to objectively evaluate the current status of the chamber. The reality of erosion, escalated over the past two years, of the organization’s finances, membership, and participation was not enough to keep the Chamber operational.

The other financial reality brought forward in this process is that our local economy and businesses cannot support the full function of the Chamber alone, it requires some type of financial partnership to sustain. The long-standing partnership with the City of International Falls used to provided that. After years of decline in support of the Chamber, the partnership ended after the City cut 70% of the 2021 contract without reason. The Chamber also approached the Koochiching County Commissioners regarding a promotional/economic development contract to support the Chamber when the International Falls City Council drastically cut the Chamber’s 2021 contract and the Chamber forecasted this outcome. Unfortunately, the County did not see any opportunity to explore a financial partnership as it was not considered a part of the core services they focus on providing. The other partnership solution seen in many communities is the joining of the Convention & Visitors Bureau with the Chamber, as the lodging tax provides consistent income and the percent the can be allocated for administration contributes to the joint organization. Locally these two organizations were once one, the topic of re-merging has come up on occasion over the years, however the current CVB executive board also did not have interest in a merger.

Thus, we arrive at the unfortunate situation of the Chamber closing its doors. The dissolution of the Chamber brings an incredible loss of community representation, promotion, and service to the businesses of the International Falls area that was not always recognized and valued. As the Chamber moves forward with its dissolution process the assets of the Chamber will be liquidated and distributed according to the Chamber’s bylaws to one or more regularly organized and qualified charitable, educational, scientific, or philanthropic organizations as selected by the Board of Directors. The Chamber is grateful for the support so many businesses and individuals in the community have shown over the decades, allowing us the opportunity to serve the greater International Falls area for 69 years.