Hillsboro, Marion chambers meet for joint planning

The board of directors with Marion and Hillsboro Chambers of Commerce met twice this summer to look at how they can work together to strengthen both cities.

?Both communities have residents that live in one community and work in the other,? said Don Noller, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, during the Sept. 7 joint meeting.

?I would assume these individuals are already supportive of both communities.?

Noller added that with the economy in the shape it is in, he said he believes it only makes sense to work together.

Cynthia Fleming, president of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Noller.

?Having Marion and Hillsboro work together will benefit both communities,? she said.

?We are close neighbors, people from each of our communities do business in the other community and it makes sense to make that bond tighter.?

During the recent meeting, almost 20 people attending the joint meeting to discuss possible ways to combine resources.

Some of the areas discussed included the annual dinner, advertising for Arts & Crafts and Art in the Park, spring retail promotions, car shows, a hospitality room at sporting events and more.

Joint annual meeting

According to Marion Chamber members, their group hasn?t had an annual dinner for at least three years.?It was suggested that maybe the two Chambers could choose a date in January for a combined annual event.

Although nothing is decided, both Chamber board members thought an annual dinner together was a good idea and something that could be worked out.

One Chamber member said it would benefit both groups to have the annual dinner together bringing in a larger attendance and possibly a bigger named speaker or other activity.

Fleming said Arts & Crafts and Art in the Park are both good examples of how the two communities can work together.

?When you go to the larger cities,? she said, ?you find similar eating establishments within close proximity to each other.

?They know they can attract customers to their business because of being close to others.?

With towns as close as Marion and Hillsboro, she said, the same is true.

Attracting people

?We can bring potential customers to Marion County by giving them additional options of where to shop and by planning special events on the same day, which benefits both towns,? Fleming said.

Noller said he liked the idea of putting together a retail sales event.

?I think both communities would support it by driving to the other community to shop,? he said. ?It?s a lot cheaper to drive to Marion or Hillsboro than driving to Newton or Wichita.?

Margo Yates, Marion Chamber director, said that anytime one city can network with another, like with Hillsboro and Marion, both will benefit.

?It encourage us to know that many of the same issues and frustrations we have here in Marion are shared by our friends in Hillsboro,? she said.

With so many options to choose from, Yates said she is encouraged.

?We can learn from each other and we need to work together, especially in these hard economic times.

At the joint Chamber meeting in June, board members from both communities visited about organizing a combined city-wide garage sale, antique fair and quilter?s block party.

Hospitality room

One event in the near future that Chamber board members from both towns agreed might work is organizing a hospitality room at Marion?s football field when the two schools play each other Oct. 27.

The idea of the hospitality room would be to familiarize people with what the Chamber does while serving refreshments.

Whatever the two groups decide to do, the first two joint meetings were collectively considered successful.

?I look forward to working with Marion,? Fleming said. ?We have had a couple of joint meetings to visit about what we can do together and more meetings are planned in the future.?

For more information about the Marion Chamber of Commerce, call 620-382-3425.

For more information about the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, call 620-947-3506.

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