Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured representating the Trinidad Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce (L-R) along the back row are Jack Israel, Polly Cisneros and Brad Kirby and in front are, Cheri Jacobson, Sheri Files, Executive Director Nicia Crosson and Linda Barron.

As Trinidad continues to attract newcomers and tourists into town, access to business development resources and practice, according to Trinidad Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nicia Crosson, is becoming more important than ever. In a recent interview with Crosson, she stated the local Chamber would be focusing more on a clear vision for helping business owners into the future by providing more resources and building stronger connections with the community.

“Going into the new decade and having that clear focus on what is best for businesses and for our economy here in town is part of my desire for this New Year,” said Crosson. “Also, I’d like to do more workshops with a focus on after hours workshops and educational opportunities, whether it’s identity theft, advanced directives, or whatever our members express they’d like more information on.”

“We also want to work on reestablishing the relationship of the Chamber with the community and business owners and leaders,” Crosson said, “and build up trust and integrity to where we are seen as actively involved in our local business community and economy and a champion of local businesses. We’re not here to gain notoriety, but to safeguard, propel, establish and perpetuate our business owners and their growth.”

Over the past year, the Chamber has gained around 20 new members with a total of 140 members currently. While some businesses have gone out of business or moved over the past year, Chamber volunteer Jack Israel said they are also starting to see old members come back.

“People are seeing that we’re doing things again and continuing to offer more resources each year,” said Israel, “and that’s starting to get people who had dropped off years ago back. Memberships dues pay for us to keep a paid staff to continue offering more for our members. Right now, we only pay our executive director and the rest of us are volunteers. I’d like to see us be able to hire help for the summer so that we can keep growing, but that can only happen if we can keep and continue to grow our membership.”

Crosson said she hopes to continue to grow as an organization as people start to see the benefits and resources they have to offer. Crosson also explained that part of the Chamber’s push is to show people that, even in a society of search engines, they are still relevant to businesses; perhaps even more so.

“Before there was Google, people knew they could go to a Chamber of Commerce and we could tell you who did what service,” said Crosson. “Now we can go read Google reviews. So what sets the Chamber apart is we’re now the human element that connects individuals.

“Google can read analytics all day long,” Crosson continued. “But, when I’m sitting here and I’m talking to a business owner and they’re telling me they’re struggling with this or that, I can tell them they need to go talk to this person or that person or they need help with financial planning or grant writing. I can say this is what they’re looking for and point them in the right direction. The Chamber is now that human touch where we’ve lost human touch.”

Crosson explained that, such as a hub of a wheel, the Chamber is a central point able to get people in contact with others that can lead to mutually beneficial connections and growth.

“We connect people,” Crosson said. “We connect businesses with good employees and good employees with businesses. I want people to feel they can come to us, and either get the information from us directly or get connected to where they can get it.”

That connectivity is something very important in rural communities like Trinidad, Crosson explained.

“I talked to a gentleman the other day that asked me how to do business in Trinidad and I said, go build relationships. If you want to do well in Trinidad, go eat at different restaurants and introduce yourself to the owners. That will establish trust and build that community connection and familiarity.”

Part of what stands out to many who have come to Trinidad from big cities and rural communities is how much people here work together to overcome obstacles and hardships Crosson stated.

“We’re not Denver, we’re not Boulder, we’re Trinidad,” said Crosson, “and we should act like Trinidad, but the best that Trinidad can be. The best that Trinidad can be is a strong united, rural community that fights for each other rather than against each other. That goes back to having trust and integrity and being genuine.”

As a Chamber, helping to support businesses and encourage that compassionate, friendly atmosphere is another part of what Crosson hopes to kindle in the community, as this is what will continue to keep current residents happy and new residents and tourists coming in.

“When we answer our phones, when we return our messages, when we’re polite, when we smile at people; those are things that go a long way in business that show people we are who we say we are,” said Crosson. “If we take care of those that are here now and we build them up and assure them that we’re here for them, the people that come in will see that we take care of our own and that we nurture our businesses and our community and they’re going to say they want to be a part of that. We have to continually ask ourselves, what is people’s first impression when they come here?”

Crosson said they would continue to be out in the community sharing the benefits of becoming a member of TLACC and looks forward to continuing to grow and expand what they offer to the community. For more information on the benefits of becoming a Chamber member or for specific information about local businesses stop by the office at 136 W Main St. in Trinidad, visit their website tlacchamber.org or call the office at 719-846-9285.

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