Chamber is Saranac Lake’s business hub

With a new sign this summer, Saranac Lake’s visitor welcome center at the Harrietstown Town Hall is open in the heart of downtown, run by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. ROOST’s administration offices and the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce office remain at the North Elba Town House on River Street, where a new ROOST sign was erected. A chamber of commerce sign is expected to be erected soon. (Enterprise photo — Catherine Moore)

Local businesses teaming up to promote and protect their interests and those of their home community — that’s the definition of a chamber of commerce. They have an important role to play. If they don’t do well, we all suffer.

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has gone through many changes over the years, as have the business members it serves. The changes are quite apparent when we look at files from the 1970s. Back then the chamber organized events, offered health insurance for businesses, hosted political speakers and sent out news releases and attract travel reporters to the area. There were committees that later spun off into separate entities, like the Saranac Lake Business Association, events and economic development.

As changes occurred, other organizations sprang up with different focuses on tourism, arts, history, downtown revitalization, etc. Civic-minded and spirited individuals who want to improve the quality of life in Saranac Lake lead all these groups. Most of them are chamber members, so why not work together?

Now under the new leadership of Adrienne Relyea as executive director and an active board, the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce appears to be headed in a good direction. True, it no longer takes the lead on tourism promotion — the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism has taken that over — it no longer runs events, and it’s no longer the only group in town working on downtown, arts and entertainment, and economic development. Yet we believe it can become the center of the community again.

Saranac Lake is splintered, not only into three towns and two counties but into a myriad of nonprofit groups working on community betterment — but not always working together. These need a hub, a place where ideas and observations are shared and worked out. The chamber is that natural place for that. It represents the business community. It is, as its name suggests, the room where people get together to talk business: what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed.

For starters, perhaps it could start holding joint community meetings on a quarterly basis to share accomplishments, build on ideas, face reality and discuss improvements.

We’d all see Saranac Lake become a quintessential community where people would want to visit and, maybe more importantly, live and prosper. Therefore, we encourage everyone to support their local chamber of commerce and to join forces to make visitors and residents look up and take notice.