Taos has an active and engaged business community. More than 400 businesses belong to the Taos County Chamber of Commerce. With its participating members, a board of directors and two staff people, …
Taos has an active and engaged business community. More than 400 businesses belong to the Taos County Chamber of Commerce. With its participating members, a board of directors and two staff people, the chamber works to make Taos a better place.
“We work energetically on behalf of Taos and our businesses to support our members and to draw people to events that benefit the community. We create unique opportunities for visitors and locals to come together to experience Taos. If the local community is happy, visitors are happy,” says Susan Cady, executive director.
Three major events are sponsored by the chamber: the Taos Lilac Festival coming up in May, Taos Plaza Live in the summer and Sabor, a Taste of Taos to be held this year on Oct. 7. The Taos Lilac Festival celebrates the arrival of blooming lilacs.
Over three days, the Lilac Festival draws locals and visitors to Kit Carson Park to enjoy food, drink, music, arts and crafts and to learn about the lilacs that beautify Taos. Los Jardineros Garden club will have a Welcome Tent featuring lilac advice and products, along with another pair of tents at the event for kids’ gardening crafts. The main corporate sponsor, Rio Grande Ace Hardware, will have a wide variety of outdoor and garden products, including lilacs and flowers.
The weekend of May 18 to 20, the park will be full of activity, including a taco cook-off and pet parade. The historic Tio Vivo Carousel with its hand-carved horses will offer free rides for children. The festival is in its sixth year, and the chamber is taking an increased role in producing the event under the guidance of festival founders John Hamilton and Kathy Fortner.
The popular outdoor music series Taos Plaza Live begins on May 31 and runs through August 23. For a full schedule of music, visit the chamber website and consult The Taos News Tempo.
Many of the events that are sponsored by the chamber come from ideas suggested by members. Sabor, A Taste of Taos, a food tasting event, arose from a conversation at Taos Plaza several years ago, in which a chamber member said,“Wouldn’t it be great to a have a fall food event on Taos Plaza?”
A recent women’s expo event also came from a member’s suggestion. Altogether, the chamber plans more than 50 events a year, including networking, job training, and expos. “We connect the dots for members and prospective members, helping them find the resources they need to be successful here,” points out Cady. She says that they advocate for businesses getting started or in any phase of business development as they work through local, regional and state processes.
The chamber represents Taos at a regional level through their involvement with the Enchanted Circling Marking Coop, which meets monthly to work to promote the region. The chamber is also active with the Association of Commerce and Industry at the state level. As a member-owned nonprofit, they operate independently but work cooperatively with local governments and other entities to promote community involvement and improve the economics of Taos.
The chamber fields thousands of phone calls from people who are visiting or want to move to town. They receive inquiries from people looking for reputable businesses and refer those customers to chamber members.
Businesses are featured on the chamber website, which is visited by more than 5,000 people a month and is among the top results for Google searches. The chamber advocates for businesses and help with important events, such as ribbon cuttings. The monthly Mix and Meets are hosted by a different chamber member each month, giving each the opportunity to showcase their businesses.
“We are so fortunate to have such wonderful active and involved members to help with our events. If our members make a commitment to show up and help out, they do it. Our board is full of business professionals, which is such an important component of success. It makes our job such a pleasure,” says Cady. “Taos is a special place. There is an acceptance of all different types of people and businesses that creates a mosaic of Taos. We are all allowed to shine as individual people and have our special sparkle.”
Director of membership and events Lindsey Pfaff adds, “The chamber members help and support each other. We like to say a rising tide lifts all ships. We lift each other up. We are honored to promote Taos businesses and all of Northern New Mexico.”
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