Views of the Valley: Carbondale Chamber looks ahead

The Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce donated $1,5000 to the Salvation Army thanks to its holiday Tinsel Trail. From left Michele Bannon, City of Carbondale; John Gorel, Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, Michel Cipilewski, Salvation Army and Mary Tomaine, volunteer.

2020, what can we say?

It was certainly a challenging year for everyone, especially for our friends in small business and the restaurant industry.

The membership of the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce is made up of many small businesses throughout the upper valley. Over the past year, we have seen struggles, we have seen members who have not made it, but we have also seen perseverance. As vaccines become more readily available, and restrictions on businesses decrease, we see a different set of struggles with many of our members.

As I write this, one of the biggest struggles for many businesses, big or small is the ability to find employees. You can see as you drive throughout the Valley the numerous “help wanted” bill boards, and almost every business you walk into have posted “now hiring” notices. The Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce wants to help by offering free help wanted advertising throughout our social media outlets and newsletters.

Over the past couple of months, we offered Virtual Roundtables, with various points of discussion with different industries in regards to helping each other with workforce development, employee retention and employee/employer education. We will continue to offer various roundtables virtually, with the hopes to move to more in-person events very soon.

Looking and moving forward in 2021, we are taking a positive approach. As you have read in prior columns, The Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce is always trying to give back to the community, all while promoting the commerce of so many different businesses.

Throughout the holiday season, the Chamber did the Tinsel Trail in downtown Carbondale. Earlier this month, we were able to present a check for $1,500 to our local Salvation Army Unit. The funds will be used to help the community directly in so many different ways.

We also did Chamber Chance, where we raised money for different restaurants and their servers when the restrictions on their businesses were very strict. The Chamber was able to provide over $3,000 with the help of the community to support these various businesses and restaurants.

Again moving forward, we have many different functions planned for 2021. We know that many people are “Zoomed” out, however we continue hosting a variety of virtual roundtables and educational events.

As we head into the later part of spring, we will be hosting in-person employment events with different companies.

In early June, there will be an art walk throughout downtown Carbondale, hosted by the Women to Women Thrive Group of the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

We are planning our annual dinner and Celebrating Progress Award night. This event usually occurs in early February, but we do not want to skip it this year, so we are planning it for mid-summer.

As of right now, our annual Wine Train events are on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. We are in contact constantly with the National Park Service with the hopes to bring this great event back.

You will see various business card exchanges and networking events coming back starting this summer, and then the Taste of the Town this fall. These events not only support the businesses that are involved, they bring members of the community together. Chamber events are also an important part of our work, which keep our local commerce alive and moving forward.

John Gorel is the executive director of the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. If you would like to learn more about the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, become a member, advertising opportunities or join their mailing list, email Executive Director John Gorel at