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Grassroots efforts " literally " part of mission of chamber

John Seelmeyer

Members of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce know all about grassroots activity.

They’re out picking up trash off the grass and pulling weeds out of the grass in public places. They’re making sure that visitors remember the green grass of Carson City and don’t see graffiti that they remove from walls.

“We are very focused on continuing to spread the message that Carson City is a viable community,” says Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. “It’s all about looks. We need to make the community look welcoming.”

It’s a job, she says, that’s completed one small step at a time.

When the owners of a vacant building on a high-traffic street boarded up windows with ugly sheets of plywood, for instance, representatives of the chamber of commerce quickly were on the phone making arrangements to get the plywood painted a color that helped it blend in with the rest of the building.

Out-of-town visitors to the chamber or the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau the groups share a building near the Nevada State Railroad Museum often comment on the cleanliness of Carson City’s streets and neighborhoods.

“That doesn’t just happen,” Hannaman says.

And the Chamber of Commerce is looking at ways to find new uses for old buildings that have been left behind, a philosophy that Hannaman calls “Treasuring Our Treasures.”

A current focus involves finding a new use for the Nevada State Prison, a 150-year-old facility that was closed in May. Members of the Chamber, Hannaman says, see the potential to use the prison as a tourist attraction or a location for movie productions.

“We are trying to keep what we have in top shape,” she says.

The Chamber of Commerce is working, too, to keep relationships among its 650 members in top shape.

One of the most important but little-noticed services that the chamber of commerce can provide its members is an opportunity to see and be seen, Hannaman says.

A home and garden show in April that showcased only members of the chamber of commerce, for instance, drew more than 2,000 people.

A health, wellness and beauty fair in January served as a showcase for chamber members in those businesses.

A new series of low-cost lunches billed as “Soup’s On” provide networking opportunities along with presentations from figures such as Congressman Mark Amodei.

Among the other programs overseen by the two-person staff of the chamber of commerce are Leadership Carson City, which provides a year-long training for future community leaders, a Young Business Professionals group that sponsors networking groups, and an active travel club that’s an outgrowth of several international tours sponsored by the chamber of its members in recent years.